JoséMaría Gironella Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

José María Gironella (hee-roh-NEH-yah) was born in the province of Gerona, Catalonia; his full name was originally José María Gironella Pous. Following his primary school education he was placed in an ecclesiastical seminary, but he was not interested in a religious vocation and left when he was thirteen years old. This marked the end of his formal education. Between 1933 and 1936 Gironella worked at various occupations: He served apprenticeships in a liquor factory and in a grocery business, and later he became a clerk in a bank. When the Spanish Civil War broke out he enlisted and was at the front during most of that conflict. After the war ended in 1939 Gironella sold used books and worked in the wholesale clothing business. He married in l946, promising his wife he would give her the Nadal Prize as a wedding present. That same year his first novel, Where the Soil Was Shallow, was published and awarded the Nadal Prize. A second novel, La marea (the tide), appeared two years later.

Gironella moved to Paris in 1948, and for a year he supplemented his income by giving chess lessons and driving a truck; he was thereafter able to support himself with his writing. He remained in Paris until 1952, with trips to England and Switzerland, and then returned to Spain.

Gironella’s major contribution to literature is a comprehensive and nonpartisan trilogy dealing with the Spanish Civil War and its ramifications. The initial...

(The entire section is 460 words.)


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

José María GironellA&Mdash;whose full name was José María Gironella Pous—spent his early life in the northeastern Spanish province of Gerona, the locale of his most successful literature. His childhood desire to enter the priesthood was abandoned primarily because his attitude toward the Catholic Church had failed to crystallize. He worked at various unskilled positions until the eve of the Spanish Civil War, at which time he was employed in the Arús Bank in Gerona. During the war, Gironella served on the side of the Nationalists with a battalion of ski soldiers in the Pyrenees mountains. At the conclusion of the conflict, he returned to Gerona. He had already begun to write, and now he nurtured this desire with a position as a newspaper reporter and contributor of articles to various journals.

In 1946, Gironella married his childhood sweetheart, Magda, and won the coveted Nadal Prize with the publication of his first novel. A year later, Gironella and his wife left Spain illegally and began several years of travel throughout Europe. During this time, he published his second novel, and, in 1951, he suffered a nervous breakdown. Gironella freely wrote about his illness while he sought relief at various clinics. The publication of The Cypresses Believe in God brought international recognition, and its sequel, One Million Dead, was also well received. These works assured for their creator a place in the literary history of Spain. The novelist returned to a residence in his native country, but until his death in 2003, he traveled extensively throughout the world while continuing to write.