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Summary Article: Cela, Camilo José from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(kämē'lō hōsā' thā'lä), 1916–2002, Spanish novelist, short-story writer, and poet, b. Iria Flavia. Among the writers to emerge after the Spanish civil war, he won critical acclaim with the novel La familia de Pascual Duarte (1942, tr. The Family of Pascual Duarte, 1964). Its brutal realism and crudeness of language are characteristic of Cela's style. These attributes are also evident in La colmena (1951; tr. The Hive, 1953), a powerful work detailing three days among the poor of Madrid. Cela was an extremely prolific author, but comparatively few of his works have been translated into English. These include the novels Mrs. Caldwell habla a su hijo (1953; tr. Mrs. Caldwell Speaks to Her Son, 1968), San Camilo, 1936 (1969, tr. 1991), and the autobiographical Mazurca para dos muertos (1988; tr. Mazurka for Two Dead Men, 1992). Cela is also noted for his vivid travel books, especially Viaje a la Alcarría (1948, tr. Journey to the Alcarria, 1964 and 1990), and for such nonfiction works as Diccionario secreto (1974), a compilation of colorful Spanish vulgarities, and De genes, dioses y tiranos (1981, tr. Of Genes, Gods and Tyrants, 1987), an examination of genetics and ethics. In all, he wrote 14 novels and 60 other volumes. Among Spain's most celebrated 20th-century writers, Cela won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1989 and Spain's highest literary award, the Cervantes Prize, in 1995.

  • See studies by R. Kirsner (1963), D. W. McPheeters (1969), D. Henn (1974), L. C. Charlebois (1998), and J. Pérez (2000).
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