Cela, Camilo José

Cela, Camilo José

(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 warSpanish civil war,
1936–39, conflict in which the conservative and traditionalist forces in Spain rose against and finally overthrew the second Spanish republic. The Second Republic
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, 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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cela, Camilo José


Born May 11, 1916, in Padrón, La Corana Province. Spanish writer. Member of the Royal Spanish Academy (1957).

Cela studied law in Madrid and England. His novel The Family of Pascual Duarte (1942), which laid the foundations of tremendista literature (literature employing extensive gory detail for effect; from the Spanish tremendo—“horrible,” “terrible”), depicts everyday life in Spain during the Franco period, as does his first objectivist novel, The Hive (1943; published 1951). The New Adventures and Misadventures of Lazarillo de Termes (1944) was an attempt to revive the genre of the picaresque novel. Cela’s travel notes A Journey to the Alcarria (1948) had a considerable influence on Spanish objectivist prose.

Cela’s principal theme is the tragic condition of human beings in bourgeois society, a society whose bankruptcy Cela demonstrates. In such works as the collection of essays entitled The Wheel of Leisure (1957), the common people are presented as bearers of lofty moral qualities. Cela published A Sheaf of Fables Without Love (1962) in collaboration with P. Picasso. The novel The Eve, Day, and Octave of the Feast of St. Camilo, Madrid 1936 expresses profound sympathy for the victims of the Civil War of 1936–39.


Obra completa, vols. 1–6. Madrid [1962–68].
Los viejos amigos, vols. 1–2. Barcelona, 1960.
Diccionario secreto, vol. 1. Madrid-Barcelona, 1968.
Al servicio de algo. Madrid-Barcelona [1969].
In Russian translation:
Apel’siny—zimnie plody. [Foreword by O. Savich.] Mosow, 1965.
Short stories in the collection Ispanskaia novella XX veka. [Moscow, 1965.]
Sem’ia Paskualia Duarte; Ulei; Povesti i rasskazy. [Foreword by I. Terterian.] Moscow, 1970.


Iasnyi, V. K. Begstvo v deistvitel’nost’. Moscow, 1971.
Terterian, I. Sovremennyi ispanskii roman (1939–1969). Moscow, 1972.
Ilie, P. La novelística de Camilo José Cela. Madrid [1963].
Kirsner, R. The Novels and Travels of Camilo José Cela. Chapel Hill, N.C.[1966].
Foster, D. W. Forms of the Novel in the Works of Camilo José Cela. Columbia, Mo. [1967].
McPheeters, D. W. Camile José Cela. New York [1969].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.