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Virtual interview with Laura Freixas

Virtual Interview with Laura Freixas, Instituto Cervantes Dublin Library, 3rd May 2011. Translated by Emer Cassidy

Laura Freixas

LMartín
Laura, which title would you recommend to the foreign reader as a good introduction to Carmen Martín Gaite’s work?

Laura Freixas
“El cuarto de atrás”(translated into English under the title “The Back Room”).

LMartín
How does Carmen Martín Gaite’s work vary from that of peers?

Laura Freixas
In many ways… For example: she had a great capacity for analysis, reflection, and introspection.

Also: her ability to mix popular culture and daily life with high culture, and to do so in a very natural way.

Also: the great richness and plasticity of her language (which, similarly to the references she made, even geographical – New York with a town in Galicia -, flowed seamlessly between popular and high culture).

Another characteristic very much her own, and perhaps the most obvious difference between her work and that of her peers, whether male or female, is the variety of genres in which she worked: novels, short stories, plays, essays, daily newspapers, autobiography etc.

LMartín
Kafka’s influence in Martín Gaite’s first novel, El balneario, is evident, as the writer herself agreed. Which other influences could we glean from her bibliography? Are any of them women?

Laura Freixas
Good question…I hadn’t thought about that. I think she was influenced by the novelists of the nineteenth century – Galdós, Balzac, Flaubert…-, also by Proust…and I’m not sure who else… I think like all good (male/female) writers, she was a voracious reader, and that means that there is no one single influence in her work; she drew from many wells.

DCarrión
Ignacio Aldecoa introduced Carmen Martín Gaite to his circle of friends upon her arrival in Madrid: there she met Medardo Fraile, and Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, with whom she later became romantically-involved until 1970. How important was this circle to her training as a novelist?  

Laura Freixas
Without a doubt he gave her support, and security, two things which are hard to find in the case of female writers, given that they are normally more isolated than male writers. Both formal groups (academies) and more informal groups (literary gatherings), where writers exchange opinions and ideas etc., tend to be male-dominated.

The entire group took on quite a similar aesthetic approach, a realistic and critical portrait of Spanish society at that time, in contrast to later generations who opted for more experimental literature.

DCarrión
Carmen Martín Gaite spoke on the television programme A Fondo, in and around 1981, of a before and an after in her writing style brought on by a refinement of her style crucial to the writing of her essay on Macanaz. Is her work previous to this still valid?  

Laura Freixas
How interesting, I didn’t know that. But, of course, her previous work is still valid, to my eyes Entre visillos shows she had already acquired a definite personal style. I read it just a few years ago and I still think it’s wonderful, and the same goes for Retahilas, for example.

DCarrión
Some years after the aforementioned TV programme, Carmen lost her only daughter. Did this tragic loss also affect the style and subject matter of her writing?

Laura Freixas
That’s a good question, but I don’t know… In any case, don’t forget that she had already lost a son, who died just a few months after having been born. That provided the autobiographical basis for her short story “Lo que queda enterrado”, although, oddly enough, the protagonist in the story loses a baby girl, not a baby boy.

(I think the reason for that change is that the death of the baby girl in the story takes on a greater meaning: it represents the death of the little girl in the narrator, of her hopes and dreams).

LMartín
You have mentioned before that very few women’s issues, such as pregnancy, are ever examined in literature. Which women’s issues did Carmen Martín Gaite explore in her work?

Laura Freixas
Lots of them: mother-daughter relationships, the profile of a housewife, feminine introspection, women’s various roles (comparing women who work outside the home, and those who don’t, for example), the creation of female characters rarely or never dealt with in literature (the “weird” girl, the artist etc.), the critical analysis of gender roles, inequality, the relationship between power and the lack of communication between the sexes…

LMartín
What other subjects do you think still remain difficult to write about simply because they are never discussed in literature?

Laura Freixas
I think there are still subjects which are scandalously absent from literature because they are difficult to deal with, or could cause a backlash, and/or because they are associated with sub-culture (they are viewed as “women’s magazine” topics, and aren’t considered “serious”). For example, pregnancy, abortion, or the negative aspects of motherhood.

DCarrión
Are Ana Karenina, Madame Bovary, and La Regenta “real” women, or are they transvestite men who have tried unsuccessfully to reflect the interior world of women?

Laura Freixas
Ah, what a good question! When I read those novels, I had the feeling there was something the authors hadn’t quite captured, or weren’t aware of, something they didn’t manage to fully reflect. I didn’t feel they were able to construct characters as convincing or as complex as those by Carmen Martín Gaite, Virginia Woolf or Annie Ernaux.

But the difference is so subtle that it would be very difficult to pinpoint exactly. Perhaps it’s for the same reason that I never fully believe historic novels. If I’m interested in learning more about the 17th century, I would be more inclined to read Madame de Sévigné, for example.

LMartín
How is the young Spanish woman from the ‘50s, the protagonist in “Entre Visillos”, different to the young woman from the ‘70s, the protagonist in “Adolescencia en Barcelona hacia 1970”?

Laura Freixas
The protagonist in Adolescencia… has had two or three times the luck of the young woman in Entre Visillos, to have been born in a more modern Spain (in terms of the era and the region, Catalonia), in a more cosmopolitan family, and to have studied in the French Lycée. All of those influences give her self-confidence, freedom, the ability to view things with a critical eye, and a clear ambition. She is more enterprising and more self-assured.

But what she does have in common with the protagonist in Entre visillos is a certain feeling of disorientation, that something isn’t right, but she can’t quite put her finger on what exactly.

(If truth be told, to answer the question properly I’d need to reread both books, because it’s not something I had ever thought of before. Thank you LMartín, for giving me so many ideas…)

DCarrión
The back cover of that same book reads:  …an education ruled by the maxim “You must be ladies”. Are today’s young women in Spain still under pressure to be ladies, or have things become even more difficult for them, in that nothing is expected of young women any more, nor of young people in general?

Laura Freixas
I don’t know, to tell you the truth, because the only young woman I know well is my daughter, and I, along with her father, and her school (the French Lycée, cela va sans dire!), expect a great deal from her.

LMartín
Is the biographical component also an important element in your other three novels “Último domingo en Londres”,”Amor o lo que sea” and “Entre amigas”?

Laura Freixas
Yes, absolutely. All my novels have an autobiographical core. I used to feel uncomfortable about that at the beginning, but not any more, for the following reasons:

1-Autobiographers are accused of having a lack of imagination, but I think I have proved that’s not the case with my books of short stories. Besides, it is possible to be a wonderful writer while not displaying much imagination (as with Proust, or Pla).

2- In revealing my life, I’m not revealing anything most people couldn’t relate to. My life is very similar to that of any other woman born in circumstances (generational, geographical, social etc.) similar to my own.

3- The autobiographical element is only the jumping-off point. It’s like the fabric from which I make a dress: first I have to cut out the pattern, sow it, add other materials and accessories, and so on. Multiple stories can be weaved from the one biography.

DCarrión
What happened with your first novel, “Último domingo en Londres”? Why was it such “an ordeal” to get published, given that you had already published your first book of short stories? Were you not able to convince Anagrama? I imagine they were your first choice.

Laura Freixas
That’s exactly it. I think it was a very ambitious (or complicated) novel for the little literary experience (or complete lack of, if we are talking specifically about novels) I had at the time.

Aside from that, I think that gender was something of a double-edged sword in the case of my initial success (Anagrama having published my first novel, given that I was unknown and that it was a book of short stories), in that, young women have a certain charisma and that affords them lots of opportunities… but then, when they are no longer so shiny and new, they are treated as “more of the same”…

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many female writers’ careers (I would interested in finding out if the same thing happened in other eras, and if it continues to happen in other fields, such as in politics, or painting) take off very early and with apparent ease, and then lose speed, or disappear completely, only to reappear (in some cases) years later, as the very same Carmen Martín Gaite, Carmen Laforet, Ana María Matute, Luisa Forrellad…

LMartín
Regarding “Ladrona de rosas”, isn’t it a luxury to throw yourself into writing and publishing the biography of a Brazilian author who isn’t particularly well-known in Spain? How did the need, or the idea, to write this book come about?

Laura Freixas
It was all thanks to a happy coincidence. An editor (María Borrás, from La Esfera publishing house) contacted me to ask if I would be interested in writing an autobiography, which gave me the opportunity study a writer who had always intrigued and fascinated me, through her life as much as her work.

DCarrión
Is “Ladrona de rosas” to Laura Freixas what “Macanaz” was to Martín Gaite? Did the writing of this book change the way in which you approach your literary work?   

Laura Freixas
I haven’t thought about that, but it has changed my approach to life, or rather, it has reaffirmed one thing, namely: for years I thought being a (part-time) housewife was a good way of being able to devote oneself to writing, without the pressures inherent in having to make a living from a career (be that literature or not).

Now, through my own experience, and also because I have seen it as clear as day in the case of Lispector, I think that is a very dangerous was of thinking, and which comes at a high price. Through her letters, we see that when she was living abroad, disconnected from what was happening in literary circles in her country, she was so distressed and depressed she had great difficulty writing. And she wrote her best works when she divorced, returned to Brazil and had to earn a living. Of course there are lots of factors at work there, but that doesn’t stop it being a fact.

LMartín
“A glass ceiling prevents many women from being published”, those are your words. What can we do to break through this glass ceiling?

Laura Freixas
The first thing we can do is be aware of it, talk about it, analyse it, research the figures, to try to understand why and how it occurs… In my association “Clásicas y Modernas”, that’s precisely what we do.

DCarrión
In 2009, you relayed some striking facts produced by the Spanish Ministry of Culture: “women read more than men, the number of men and women who write literature is equal – 8% of the population – however, only 20% of literature published in Spain is by women”. Has anything changed since then?

Laura Freixas
Unfortunately not. And neither have I observed a greater awareness of the situation… except in the case of those involved: female writers, painters, composers, film directors… as evidenced by the creation of various associations of women within the world of the arts in recent years, such as CIMA (association of women in film and audiovisual industries), MAV (Women in the Visual Arts) and Clásicas y Modernas (association for gender equality in the arts).

DCarrión
Your mother’s passion for reading was, as far as I’m aware, what led you to read and to write, “to turn yourself into a book” so that your mother would pay more attention to you. What did you read at that age? Which was the book that seeded your love of literature?

Laura Freixas
My love of literature began even before I could read. Oddly, I don’t remember a particular title which marked me greatly until the great discovery I made at 19: Proust.

Patricia
You were recently selected as one of the most representative authors of contemporary Spanish fantastic narrative. Proof of that is the inclusion of your short story “Final Absurdo” in the anthology of contemporary Spanish fantastic short stories “Perturbaciones, Antología del relato fantástico español actual” (Salto de Página, 2009).

What is your relationship with the fantastic genre? What is it that attracts you to it? How would you define today’s fantastic literature?

Laura Freixas
Well, I should confess that it’s a genre which interested me when I was younger, mainly as an influence of the Latin American boom, and now it doesn’t interest me so much…

Pavel
Laura, I think men are more group-oriented than women, making it much more difficult for women to achieve important positions within society. I don’t understand why it is like that. What is your view on the subject?

Laura Freixas
You’re right, women are more fragmented, living their lives at home, not making as much use of public spaces, and tending to spend their time with family and friends more so than with colleagues or competitors.

That has to do with power: men play power games much more than we do, and that happens through men tending to relate mostly with other men, through negotiations and exchanges. As for women, I’m not sure whether it’s that we don’t know how to play those games, we’re not able to, or we don’t want to. And I think being excluded from that interplay, whatever the reason may be (which I honestly don’t know), is a price we pay dearly.

Joe
Do you think men and women write about different subjects in their work?

Laura Freixas
Although it may be rather brash of me to make sweeping generalisations, I do think there are certain areas which are dealt with more by male writers (for example, war) and others which are more common among female writers (for example, relationships between women: friends, mothers and daughters, sisters etc.).

I also think that female writers tend to construct female characters which are varied and complex, with interests and ambitions not solely focused on love, whereas male writers are inclined to present female characters purely as the lover, mother, or wife of the male character, rather than the protagonist of her own life.

Joe
Laura, a few months ago you were interviewed on the radio for the classical music programme “Juegos con espejo”, in which the person being interviewed picks their favourite music. You chose only foreign composers. Why were there no Spanish composers among your selection? Thank you.

Laura Freixas
Thank you for pointing that out, I hadn’t noticed.

It’s purely down to my musical ignorance. The little musical knowledge I have has been almost entirely handed down from my parents, who were both great fans of classical music. As far back as I can remember they would listen to Bach, Handel, Mozart, Schubert… I added more modern composers (Janacek, R. Strauss…), and apart from that, my friends influenced me as a teenager, by introducing me to Janis Joplin, for example.

Although, if truth be told, now that you mention it, I think that like many of my generation, I had certain anti-Spanish prejudices in my formative years, which carried over to my tastes in literature (I started to get out of that mind-set quite late, in the ‘90s, when I began reading the Spanish classics, of my own accord), and I suppose also in music.

Colm
Do you think that men and women’s roles in society are the same in every country? Thank you.

Laura Freixas
Not in the slightest. Fortunately so, for those of us who live in the West, which proves that gender roles are a social fabrication and may be modified.

Vicky
Good afternoon, Laura. What does Carmen Martín Gaite’s “Caperucita en Manhattan” represent to you? Thank you very much.

Laura Freixas
Yikes, that’s one of the very few, perhaps the only, of her books I haven’t read… I’m sorry. I’ll make sure to read it.

Thank you to all of you for taking part.

Related links:

Laura Freixas is our author of the month throughout the month of May.

Con nombre de mujer / Women’s names

El 4 de May de 2011 en Books, Library, The library suggests por | Sin comentarios

rosa-chacelApenas unos días después de que Ana María Matute haya recibido el Premio Cervantes, y en el mes en que Laura Freixas nos visita para hablarnos sobre la obra de Carmen Martín Gaite, os proponemos un acercamiento a algunas de las grandes autoras de la literatura escrita en español, desde las pioneras como Teresa de Ávila o Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, hasta las escritoras con mayor éxito de ventas hoy en día como Matilde Asensi o Julia Navarro.

Esperamos que os guste la selección.

Otros títulos de Cecilia Böhl de Faber y Larrea, (que escribía bajo el pseudónimo de Fernán Caballero), Dulce María Loynaz, Emilia Pardo Bazán, María Zambrano, etc., os esperan en la biblioteca


Just a few days after Ana María Matute was officially awarded the Cervantes Prize, and in the same month in which Laura Freixas visit us to speak about Carmen Martín Gaite, we’d like to invite you to come and get to know some other great female authors of Spanish-language literature, from pioneering writers such as Teresa de Ávila and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, to today’s best-selling authors, such as Matilde Asensi and Julia Navarro.

We hope you enjoy our selection.

However many more from these authors and others await you in the library (including Cecilia Böhl de Faber y Larrea, who wrote under the pseudonym Fernán Caballero, Dulce María Loynaz, Emilia Pardo Bazán and María Zambrano).

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Del dinosaurio deprimido al cerdito en bancarrota [5 de 5]

Del dinosaurio deprimido al cerdito en bancarrota: Instrucciones para pasar el invierno

Antología de textos del Curso de escritura creativa y literatura en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. (Octubre a febrero 2011)

En esta antología se hayan recogidos textos de los alumnos del Curso de escritura creativa y literatura, realizado en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín este invierno de 2010. Si hay frases con un tinte algo exótico es porque las editoras, Carmen San Julián y Patricia García, hemos decidido modificar lo mínimo posible los textos originales, y así mantener el estilo de cada autor.

Hoy, última entrega de la serie, presentamos el último cuento

  • La bella durmiente: La Bella durmió casi cien años. El Príncipe apareció y encontró la cama fría, sin vida, con la mujer más bella del mundo. Sabía qué debía hacer. La besó. (Sigue leyendo)

Esperamos que hayáis disfrutado de la serie. Os esperamos en nuestro próximo curso de escritura creativa.

Enlaces relacionados:

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Literatura fantástica con Alicia Mariño / Fantasy literature with Alicia Mariño

Hoy os presentamos nuestro renovado canal de televisión en Youtube con una entrevista a Alicia Mariño.

Con ella iniciamos una nueva serie de encuentros literarios en la biblioteca titulada “5 minutos con… “ en la que nuestros profesores y compañeros charlarán con los escritores y artistas que nos visitan dentro de nuestra programación cultural.

En esta primera entrevista, Pilar Garrido charla con Alicia Mariño sobre literatura fantástica. Alicia Mariño nos visitó el pasado 3 de marzo para celebrar con nosotros el Día Mundial del Libro en Irlanda.

Esperamos que os guste.


Today, we are bringing you our recently rejuvenated YouTube television channel with an interview with Alicia Mariño. We hope this will be the first of many in a new series of literary encounters in the library, entitled “5 minutes with ….”, in which our teachers and friends chat to visiting writers and artists visiting in line with our cultural programme of events.

In this first interview, Pilar Garrido discusses fantasy literature with Alicia Mariño. Alicia Mariño paid us a visit on the 3rd March to celebrate with us World Book Day in Ireland.

We hope you enjoy it.

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El día de Cervantes, la Noche de los Libros / Cervantes’ Day, The Night of the Books

El 27 de April de 2011 en Literature, World Book Day por | Sin comentarios

Tras el 23 de abril, las celebraciones del “Día mundial del libro y del derecho de autor” y de Sant Jordi, en España continúa celebrándose la fiesta del libro y de la lectura.

Hoy recibe su Premio Cervantes, en la universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Ana María Matute. La entrega del premio se puede seguir por en directo a través de Radio Nacional de España y por televisión en CervantesTV.

Posteriormente, ella misma dará comienzo a la lectura continuada del Quijote que cada año se celebra en el Círculo de Bellas Artes.

La lectura, que ocupa unas 36 horas en total, se puede seguir por radio en Radio Círculo, y una vez más, por televisión en el canal del Instituto Cervantes CervantesTV.

Para los que lleguen tarde, o los que quieran comenzar a escuchar el Quijote por cualquier capítulo de su interés, existe desde el pasado 22 de marzo el Canal El Quijote en Youtube, gestionado por la Real Academia Española de la lengua y por la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española. Fueron 2149 hispanohablantes los que participaron en esta lectura universal del Quijote.

Y al anochecer, llega la sexta edición de La noche de los libros en la que participarán más de 450 escritores y artistas por las calles de la Comunidad de Madrid. La noche de los libros también se celebra, cómo no, en la sede del Instituto Cervantes en Madrid.

Felicidades a todos.


The 23rd April having just passed, along with the “World Book and Copyright Day” and Sant Jordi festivities, Spain’s celebration of books and reading is still underway. Today, Ana María Matute will be awarded the Cervantes Prize, in the university of Alcalá de Henares. You can follow the prize-giving ceremony live with Spanish national radio, Radio Nacional de España, and on TV with CervantesTV.   

Following the ceremony, she will officially initiate the continuous reading of Don Quixote which is held every year in the Círculo de Bellas Artes.

You can follow the reading, due to last some 36 hours in total, with the Círculo de Bellas Artes’s radio station, Radio Círculo, or, again with Instituto Cervantes’s television channel, CervantesTV.

If you are unable to follow the event live, or if you wish to listen to a particular chapter of Don Quixote, you can also watch the event on the YouTube channel “ElQuijote”, created recently on the 22nd March by the Royal Spanish Academy and the Association of Spanish Language Academies. 2149 Spanish-speakers have participated in this universal reading of Quixote.

And if that isn’t enough, in the evening, the sixth edition of La noche de los libros gets underway, with over 450 writers and artists participating in various activities on Madrid’s streets, all in celebration of reading. Book night will also, of course, be celebrated in Instituto Cervantes‘s headquarters in Madrid.  

Let the proceedings begin!

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Sabor de España / A taste of Spain

¿Qué mejor forma de olvidar las penas tras las vacaciones de Semana Santa?


What better way to forget the pains after the Easter holidays?

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Del dinosaurio deprimido al cerdito en bancarrota [4 de 5]

Del dinosaurio deprimido al cerdito en bancarrota: Instrucciones para pasar el invierno

Antología de textos del Curso de escritura creativa y literatura en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. (Octubre a febrero 2011)

En esta antología se hayan recogidos textos de los alumnos del Curso de escritura creativa y literatura, realizado en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín este invierno de 2010. Si hay frases con un tinte algo exótico es porque las editoras, Carmen San Julián y Patricia García, hemos decidido modificar lo mínimo posible los textos originales, y así mantener el estilo de cada autor.

Hoy presentamos:

  • La idea perfecta: Eran las siete de la tarde. Maximilian se sentó en el Bachelor Inn Bar cerca del río Liffey. Terminó de beber su decimotercera copa de Jameson y como siempre en viernes esperó a su mejor amigo. Kieran siempre llegaba tarde. Era casi ocho años menor que Max y para su explicación siempre usaba su edad. (Sigue leyendo)
  • La nieve:
    Me despierto por la mañana,
    Miro por la ventana
    Un paisaje nevado
    En esta estación dormida. (Sigue leyendo)
  • Los tres cerditos: Había una vez, hace mucho mucho tiempo, en una tierra muy muy lejana, una ciudad muy bonita llena de riqueza que se llamaba “La ciudad de las Burbujas”. (Sigue leyendo)

Enlaces relacionados:

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¿Todavía no has venido a visitarnos? / Still thinking about visiting us?

Si no nos has visitado todavía, esperamos que con estas fotos te animes a venir. Si ya lo has hecho, seguro que volverás: Ver álbum.

If you have not visited us yet, we hope these photos will encourage you to come. If you’ve done, sure you’ll be back: See album

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Mi palabra favorita es…

El 19 de April de 2011 en El Día E, Mi palabra favorita por | Sin comentarios

Recuerdas tus palabras favoritas en español? / Do you remember your favorite words in Spanish? We are already preparing El DíaE, el Día del español 2011.

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1er Concurso de mini relatos “I need Spain”

Con motivo de la celebración del Día del Español que el Instituto Cervantes celebra cada año en todo el mundo, el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín, en colaboración con la Oficina de Turismo de la Embajada de España en Irlanda, la Asesoría de Educación de la Embajada de España en Irlanda, y con el patrocinio de Castilla y León, convoca su 1er concurso de mini-relatos, con el tema Necesito España / I need Spain.

Descargar bases en español (.doc)

Download terms in English (.doc)

Bases

1.  Podrá participar en el concurso cualquier estudiante de español como lengua extranjera residente en Irlanda, independientemente de su nacionalidad, que desee poner a prueba su imaginación. Cada participante podrá entregar un solo mini-relato.

2.  Los mini-relatos no sobrepasarán las 500 palabras (unas 20-25 líneas en Times New Roman, 12pt). Deberán ser originales e inéditos, y no haber sido premiados en ningún otro certamen o concurso anterior.

3.  El tema del mini-relato será libre, si bien se valorará el hecho de que su acción transcurra en España y deberá incluir, de forma lógica, la frase “Necesito España” o su traducción al inglés, “I need Spain”.

4.  Se establecen dos categorías en función de la edad del autor:

  • de 7 a 11 años
  • de 12 años en adelante

5.  Los autores de la primera categoría podrán escribir sus relatos en español o en inglés. Por su parte, los autores pertenecientes a la segunda categoría de edad solo podrán presentar su relato en lengua española.

6.  Para participar, será necesario enviar el texto por correo electrónico a bibdub(arroba)cervantes.es indicando en el asunto “concurso de mini-relatos”. En el texto del correo el autor deberá identificarse con su nombre y apellidos, dirección y teléfono, nombre del colegio o escuela en el que está estudiando, y nombre de su profesor. En un documento adjunto se remitirá el texto del mini-relato.

7.  La fecha límite para el envío de mini-relatos será el 16 de mayo de 2011.

8.  Los ganadores se anunciarán el sábado día 18 de junio, durante la entrega de premios que tendrá lugar en el propio Instituto Cervantes, en el marco de la celebración del citado Día del Español. Ese día se publicarán todos los mini-relatos recibidos en el blog del Instituto Cervantes de Dublín http://icdublinlibrary.wordpress.com

9.  El jurado, que estará presidido por la directora del Instituto Cervantes (o por la persona en quien delegue) y compuesto por miembros de la plantilla de los Instituto Cervantes de Dublín, de la Oficina de Turismo de la Embajada de España en Irlanda y de la Asesoría de Educación de la Embajada de España en el Irlanda, escogerá dos ganadores por cada categoría. Se premiará la expresividad, la creatividad y originalidad, así como el valor literario de los mini-relatos.

10.  Se establecen los siguientes premios para cada categoría:

1er premio: Un cheque por valor de 500 euros para la biblioteca de la institución ganadora y un cheque regalo por valor de 200 euros para el autor del mini-relato ganador. En ambos casos, el dinero tendrá que ser destinado a comprar libros, discos y DVD relacionados con el mundo hispánico y la enseñanza del español.

La institución ganadora también recibirá, para uno de sus profesores, un curso de formación de profesores en España, de una semana de duración, en una escuela de Castilla y León, cortesía de la Junta de Castilla y León, con billete de avión de ida y vuelta incluido, cortesía de la Oficina de Turismo de la Embajada de España en Irlanda.

2º premio: Un lote de libros, discos, y DVD de conocidos autores españoles e hispanoamericanos para el autor de la obra seleccionada como finalista por el jurado.

11. Todos los participantes estarán invitados a asistir a esta ceremonia acompañados por un familiar. El Instituto Cervantes de Dublín se hará cargo de los gastos de viaje a Dublín de los premiados y de sus acompañantes (uno por cada premiado), en caso de que alguno de ellos resida fuera de esta ciudad.

12.  Los mini-relatos premiados serán leídos en voz alta por sus autores ante el público asistente.

¡Esperamos vuestra participación!

Muchas gracias a las entidaes colaboradoras / patrocinadoras

Castilla y León

Oficina de Turismo de España en Irlanda

Asesoría técnica de Educación de la Emb. de España

Dublín, 12 de abril de 2011

Del dinosaurio deprimido al cerdito en bancarrota [3 de 5]

Del dinosaurio deprimido al cerdito en bancarrota: Instrucciones para pasar el invierno

Antología de textos del Curso de escritura creativa y literatura en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. (Octubre a febrero 2011)

En esta antología se hayan recogidos textos de los alumnos del Curso de escritura creativa y literatura, realizado en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín este invierno de 2010. Si hay frases con un tinte algo exótico es porque las editoras, Carmen San Julián y Patricia García, hemos decidido modificar lo mínimo posible los textos originales, y así mantener el estilo de cada autor.

Hoy presentamos:

  • Ojalá no se hubiera inventado: En Dublín, hace casi 30 años, se usaba algo cada día que casi todo el mundo odiaba. Pensaban, de algún modo raro, que era necesario para la vida diaria. Algunos pensaban que no había ninguna otra alternativa. ¿Cómo se equivocaron tanto? (Sigue leyendo)
  • Un encuentro fortuito: Hacía un año él trabajaba muchísimo y viajaba de vez en cuando. Esperaba verla en el vuelo pero siempre estaba desilusionado. Tenía un amigo que le pidió ayudarlo en un proyecto en África del Sur. Duraría dos semanas, en una barriada donde construían casas para la gente de la zona. (Sigue leyendo)
  • La libertad: Esa mañana me levanté y por primera vez me sentí libre. Vestido de marrón, con un traje muy de moda, cogí el metro. Estaba casi solo en el andén; eran las 6 de la mañana. Pero tenía que estar ahí a las 7.  Y eso, para mí, era la libertad. (Sigue leyendo)

Enlaces relacionados:

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En la ciudad de Sylvia

El 13 de April de 2011 en Cultural Activities, Spanish Cinema por | Sin comentarios

Proyección cinematográfica / Film Screening

Hoy / Today 13/04/2011 6:00 pm.

Instituto Cervantes
Lincoln House, Lincoln Place
Dublin 2

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Blood wedding / Bodas de sangre at the Project Arts Centre

El 12 de April de 2011 en Spain in Dublin, Theatre por | Sin comentarios

Discounts for Instituto Cervantes students. Send us an e-mail for more info (bibdub{at}cervantes.es)

It’s 1928 and in the dusty heat of the Andalusian province of Almeria, a young bride abandons her husband-to-be on the morning of her wedding to elope with her childhood sweetheart.

Project Arts Centre website

Cúram Theatre Company shows
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Manuel Vicent: Author of the month / Autor del mes

Manuel Vicent, escritor y periodista, nació en La Vilavella, Castellón, en 1936.

Tras licenciarse en Derecho y Filosofía por la universidad de Valencia, realizó y completó estudios de periodismo en la escuela oficial de Madrid.

Comenzó su carrera como periodista en la revista Triunfo y como columnista político en el diario Madrid. En la transición, tras la fundación del diario El País, comenzó a colaborar con este periódico realizando esa misma labor de columnista político. Hoy en día sigue escribiendo para este medio.

Compagina su labor periodística y literaria con su trabajo como galerista de arte.

Su obra literaria comprende novelas, teatro, relatos, biografías, libros de viajes, apuntes gastronómicos y entrevistas, además de los ya citados artículos periodísticos.

Más en nuestra página de autor del mes

Consulta la entrevista de los lectores con Manuel Vicent


Manuel Vicent, writer and journalist, was born in La Vilavella, Castellón, Spain, in 1936.

After graduating in Law and Philosophy from the University of Valencia, he studied Journalism at the Official School of Journalism in Madrid.

He started his career as a journalist in the magazine Triunfo and as a political columnist in the daily newspaper at the time, Madrid. During the transition to democracy, which saw the founding of El País, he starting working there, again, as a political columnist. He remains an active and regular contributor to El País to this day.

He also combines his journalistic and literary work with running an art gallery.

His literary work comprises novels, plays, short stories, biographies, travel books, food writing and interviews, not forgetting of course his articles written for the press.

More about him in our author of the month section

Digital inteview with Manuel Vicent

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Virtual interview with Manuel Vicent and Ángel Harguindey

Virtual Interview with Manuel Vicent and Ángel Harguindey, Instituto Cervantes Dublin Library, 7th April 2011. Translated by Emer Cassidy

Manuel Vicent

Laura Martín
Good afternoon Mr. Vicent. Which book or author turned you into a reader and why? Which book or author turned you into a writer?

Manuel Vicent
For me, comics where what first turned me on to reading. After that, adventure books by Salgari and Jules Verne.  Later on, with Azorín and Baroja, I was hooked. But the authors who made me a writer, if I can say such a thing, were Albert Camus and André Gide.

David Carrión
Mr. Vicent, do you remember the first story you were ever told, and the first you yourself told?

Manuel Vicent
The first story was one of the tales in Heart, by Edmundo de Amicis. Another book which had a big impact on me was one given to me by my school teacher on the day of my first holy communion: “Lo que puede más que el hombre”. Those stories of an engineer, who regales a man from the country with the latest technological advances, had a big effect on me.

The first story I made up… On a footpath, with a crowd of children around me, around 8 or 9 years old, I invented a story about a crime, and that’s as much as I can remember. A gruesome, passionate crime.

LMartín
Good afternoon, Mr. Harguindey. The same question as before: which book or author turned you into a reader and/or a writer?

Ángel Harguindey
I have only written one book of conversations with Azcona and Manuel Vicent, and there wasn’t one single book which made me a reader, but rather, several, from the “Just William” series to Jules Verne, and Stevenson.

DCarrión
Mr. Harguindey, why would you recommend M. Vicent’s books to readers who are not native Spanish-speakers? In particular, his most recent novel, “Aguirre, el magnífico”?

Ángel Harguindey
Because it is a wonderful fusion between reality and imagination. In my opinion, the interest in Vicent’s most recent novels lies in that they are excellent chronicles of our time and our country.

Especially Aguirre, el magnífico, given its subject matter as a fictionalised biography of Javier Aguirre, it also stands alone as a wonderful and much-documented chronicle of the latter half of the 20th century in Spain

DCarrión
“Aguirre el magnífico” is pure theatre of the grotesque, or esperpento, and its protagonist like a character straight out of Valle-Inclán’s court of miracles. How could we explain that to a foreigner?

Manuel Vicent
Esperpento is a literary genre created by Valle-Inclán, which isn’t so much a caricature as a literary distortion which aims to portray the essence of the character in that distortion. For a foreigner, that distortion… I’m not sure if they could fully understand it.

DCarrión
We mentioned Valle-Inclán, however, I was under the impression, Mr. Vicent, that you were more akin to the sobriety of Baroja. Is that right?

Manuel Vicent
Although I lean towards a baroque style, I find I am moving away from it. As the years go by, I tend to write in a more concise way, placing all the importance on the verb, and not the adjective, and that’s Baroja.

LMartín
Is it possible to understand the history of the 20th century in Spain just that little bit better after reading “Aguirre, el mágnífico”, or will the foreign reader end up more confused than before they had started?

Manuel Vicent
It’s possible they could end up more confused, but that also means that they have understood it, because the history of the 20th century in Spain is an utter labyrinth.

LMartín
Mr. Vicent, in “Aguirre, el magnífico” you recount how the duke introduced you to the king as his biographer. Is that how the idea came to you to write this book? What sparked the idea?

Manuel Vicent
He was just being witty. But as time passed, and the years went by, that notion became the stimulus to write this Iberian triptych. It isn’t intended to be his biography so much as an Iberian portrait, a sort of triptych, where this character carries the central role.

DCarrión
Mr. Vicent, who would you like to be your biographer? Perhaps Mr. Harguindey would like to volunteer, or will you write your own autobiography? Or, perhaps it is already in print, with a little portion in each of your novels?

Manuel Vicent
I have written quite a lot in a genre which, these days, is known as autofiction, even though it has been around since literature first came into existence. The idea isn’t to write a biography as such, it’s more the retelling of personal experiences. And the reason to share them with the reader is that they are experiences which express worlds, feelings and dreams common to us all.

LMartín
Mr. Vicent, how do you feel about the screen adaptations of your books: Tranvía a la Malvarrosa and Son de mar? Are there more to come?

Manuel Vicent
I have no idea whether there’ll be any more, but I’m happy with them in any case. I haven’t been involved in the making of either film.

LMartín
Do you think “Aguirre, el magnífico” would be good subject matter for a film by Berlanga and Azcona?

Manuel Vicent
I think it’s more Visconti territory.

DCarrión
Two Irish authors feature in your book “Póquer de ases”, I presume they are two of your favourites: Samuel Beckett and James Joyce.

Manuel Vicent
Yes, one of them because he stretched the boundaries of literature. If I were to name three authors who stretched the limits of literature, nullifying the old style of bourgeois novel, one would be Joyce, who analysed the average man’s sub-conscious, spilling his thoughts, dreams and desires through the streets of Dublin over the course of a day, and that, when you look at it, is translating the world of Freud over to fiction. The other two I’d name are Kafka and Proust.

Beckett, who in some respects was a scholar of Joyce, expressed the humour in chaos and the absurd, as our last defence against chaos itself and death.

DCarrión
Mr. Vicent, quoting Samuel Beckett you have said “Life is a chaos between two silences”. Do you think literature can bring order and sense to chaos?

Manuel Vicent
No, I think literature adds more chaos to the general chaos. But high literature makes that chaos easier to dance to.

LMartín
Mr. Vicent, in “Viajes, fábulas y otras travesías” you take us on a journey across Europe in 1985. Speaking about Ireland you say “I began to love this country the following day [after my arrival] at 9 o’clock in the morning”. Why? What has become of that love 25 years on?

Manuel Vicent
Without a doubt it was discovering the characters on Grafton Street.

It felt like I had seen all those people before in films set in the west: those red-heads that  take shots at outlaws… and Maureen O’Hara making a turnip tart.

DCarrión
You mentioned recently in the Juan March Foundation that as we get older, the only thing we remember is our childhood. I have happy memories, but I wouldn’t go back “to that place” if you paid me. Would you?

Manuel Vicent
It’s not necessarily about going back, but as we lose our memory, the brain’s hard-drive takes over, the cogs still clogged up with the slime that is our childhood.

LMartín
Mr. Vicent: tell me if I am quoting this correctly: Literature is memory rotted down with imagination over time.

Manuel Vicent
I think that’s exactly right.

LMartín
Beauty masks destruction. Beauty and corruption go hand in hand. Which one wins in the end?

Manuel Vicent
Well, I think it’s a question of dialectics. The synthesis will always win. A moment of beauty is worth a lifetime and we should make the most of it.

DCarrión
Mr. Vicent, where is your abode at the moment? Closer to Villa Alegría (Happy Town) or Ecce Homo on the corner of Virgen de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows)?

Manuel Vicent
I’ve made a mammoth effort to leave behind Ecce Homo on the corner of Virgen de los Dolores and return to Villa Alegría. I’d say it’s closer to Villa Alegría.

DCarrión
Mr. Vicent, your most recent book has come out in print and in digital format at the same time. How are you finding the experience? I imagine the majority of sales are still from print. Do you buy electronic books? Thank you very much.

Manuel Vicent
No, not ever. And I’m not sure how the digital sales are going.

Helen Cunningham
Good afternoon Mr. Vicent,
It’s not possible to visit Spain without coming across the Duchess of Alba in the gossip magazines and on various TV shows. Now you have written a book in which Jesus Aguirre, the duchess’s second husband, is the protagonist. Is the duchess happy with the book?

Manuel Vicent
It appears not, but what I can say is that from my point of view as the author of the book, the part with Jesús Aguirre as the Duke of Alba is the book’s least interesting and most insipid side.

Jo
Manuel Vicent, welcome to Ireland. Which Irish writers do you like? Thank you.

Manuel Vicent
The answer is very nearly topical: Joyce and Beckett essentially. There are more writers here per square metre than anywhere else in the world. Obviously beer is a highly literary product.

Joe
Manuel, in your short story “El caballo amante”, the protagonist writes verses of poetry whilst listening to the cries of passion of his wife and her lover in the downstairs bedroom. What do you do to stimulate your imagination whilst writing?

Manuel Vicent
It depends on what I want to write and on my mood, but what really gets me writing is having a storyline which prompts me to waste time.

Eduardo José
Dear Mr. Vicent, I have just seen your film “Son de mar”. I really like the actress. Do you think I could have a role in your next film, obviously, alongside that actress? Thank you. Thank you very much.

Manuel Vicent
I’ll suggest it to Leonor, as long as you are tall, slim and have green eyes.

Patricia
Hello. I like cookery books. Why have you written about food? Thank you.

Manuel Vicent
Because in a way eating is like a mystical deed, from a literary perspective. And because there has always been great literary tradition around what we eat.

Pawel
Hello Vicent, what is the life of a writer like? Is it very lonely? Thank you.

Manuel Vicent
Loneliness is the writer’s landscape from within which the writer observes the outside world.

Colm
Ángel, what are your criteria for deciding what to publish? Do you like Dublin? Thank you.

Ángel Harguindey
From all the possible topics, I usually choose the ones that interest me the most, personally. If I have just one criterion, it’s to always write in favour of the subject or the person. At this stage of the game, if something doesn’t interest me I have the privilege of not having to write about it.

I find Dublin a very welcoming city, with very friendly people, and civilised dimensions. For those of us coming from a city of speculators such as Madrid, it’s very attractive.

Colm
Manuel, why have your books not been translated into English?

Manuel Vicent
Ask the editors. I don’t know, honestly.

Anna Bajor-Ciciliati
Good afternoon!

I have five questions for Mr. Manuel Vicent:
1. Where does journalism end and literature begin? Which of the pairs of opposing ideas: objectivity-subjectivity, fact-fiction, or transience-universality do you see as the most important in marking the dividing line?

2.. Is there room for fiction in journalism? Or is being faithful to the facts an absolute obligation for a journalist?

3. Do you identify yourself with the idea of “literary journalism”?

4. Are there higher authorities in the world of journalism to whom you look up to? If so, who? As for your literary inspirations – who do you consider the most important?

5. Are we currently experiencing a “crisis” in journalism?

Thank you very much,

Manuel Vicent
1- Literature begins when a writer, or a journalist, takes three seconds to choose between one adjective or another.

2- There is a faithfulness to the facts which, with time, and as memory fades, becomes  fiction.

3- I think journalism is the literary genre of the latter half of the 20th century, and including up to the present moment.

4- In journalism, the only higher authority I have are the facts, the stance of reflecting reality with little in the way of adjectives and lots of verbs. My literary maestros would be Camus, Stevenson, Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Tomas Mann. In article writing, the genre in which I work the most, Josep Plá and Julio Camba.

5- As regards analogue, or print, journalism, probably. But as regards journalism as an attitude, in reflecting the facts as they come about and reflecting them to the reader as a chronicle, that will never go out of fashion because it’s embedded in our dreams.

Thank you all for participating in this interview

Related links:

Manuel Vicent will also be our author of the month throughout the month of April.

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