Juan Cruz nos visitó el pasado día 11 de junio. Siempre generoso, durante esta semana ha dedicado dos entradas de su blog a Irlanda, especialmente a Dublín, a Joyce, a Cervantes, y a lo vivido aquí durante sus visitas al Instituto.
Ya lo decía en su primera entrada: los irlandeses “reirán hasta Bloomsday y después”. Lo vimos muy claro durante el partido que enfrentó a Irlanda con España. La afición irlandesa no dejó de cantar, sonreír y animar a su equipo a pesar de la derrota, como siguen haciendo durante la crisis, cantando los hermosos acordes de The Fields of Athenry.
¿Seremos nosotros también capaces de seguir sonriendo? Afortunadamente, tenemos muchas cosas en común con Irlanda. También ese espíritu burlón que nos hace fuertes ante la adversidad y nos anima a reirnos hasta de nuestra propia sombra. Feliz Bloomsday.
Reirán hasta Bloomsday y después / Juan Cruz
El ministro irlandés de Educación es calvo y corpulento, como una cama sin hacer, que decía Sean Connery en La Casa Rusia. Se llama Roairi Quinn y es arquitecto; a él se debe que los nacionalistas ultrarreaccionarios de Dublín no acabaran con los vestigios del estilo georgiano, que consideraban una agresión al gusto patrio. Y por eso hoy Dublín sigue siendo la ciudad que amaron, y odiaron, Beckett y Joyce, quienes, como escribió el primero, jamás se fueron de esta isla aunque desarrollaran su vida y su literatura de uñas con la vida en otras geografías muy distantes.
Bloomsday / Juan Cruz
El mejor homenaje a un escritor es leerlo. Hoy se celebra el Bloomsday, el día en que Leopold Bloom, el célebre personaje de James Joyce, recorre como Ulises el camino que en Dublín tantas décadas después marca la más impresionante carrera que la imaginación le prestó a la literatura y a la vida.
Juan Cruz visited us last June 11. Always generous, this week he has devoted two of his blog posts to Ireland, especially to Dublin, Joyce, Cervantes, and to the experiences he lived here during his visits to the Instituto Cervantes.
He already said it in his first post of the week: Irish people will laugh to Bloomsday and later.” We saw it very clear during the football match between Ireland and Spain. Irish fans never stopped singing, smiling and cheering their team despite the defeat, as they still do during the crisis, singing the beautiful chords of The Fields of Athenry.
Will we also be able to keep smiling? Fortunately, we have many things in common with Ireland. Also that spirit that makes us strong in adversity and encourages us to laugh even of ourshelves. Happy Bloomsday.
Hoy hemos recibido a Mario Vargas Llosa en el Instituto Cervantes de Dublín. El premio Nobel de Literatura 2010 ha charlado con Juan Cruz ante más de doscientas personas acerca de su última novela, El sueño del celta y su protagonista, Roger Casement.
Durante la velada, también hubo tiempo para reflexionar acerca de la banalización de la cultura, a propósito de la reciente publicación del libro de ensayo de Vargas Llosa que lleva por título La civilización del espectáculo, y por supuesto para saludar y conversar con su viejo amigo, Seamus Heaney.
El pasado fin de semana se publicó en el Irish Times una elogiosa crítica de El sueño del celta, publicado en inglés por Faber and Faber. El resumen de la conferencia que retransmitimos a través de twitter se puede consultar en: http://storify.com/icdublin/en
Tonight Instituto Cervantes Dublin hosted Mario Vargas Llosa. Over 200 guests listened to the laureate of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature chat to Juan Cruz about his recent novel “The Dream of the Celt” and its protagonist Roger Casement.
During the evening there was also an occasion to reflect on trivialization of culture, alluding to Vargas Llosa’s recent book of essays “Civilization of the spectacle”, and to say hello to his old friend Seamus Heaney.
Last weekend The Irish Times featured a laudatory review on The Dream of the Celt published in English by Faber & Faber. The conference transmitted live on twitter is available here: http://storify.com/icdublin/en
Dentro de nuestra serie “Encuentros en la biblioteca” recibimos la visita del periodista Juan Cruz. Nacido en Canarias, comenzó a escribir a los 13 años, y desde entonces no ha parado: corresponsal en Londres, escritor, editor…ahora escribe un blog en el que trata multitud de temas. Como él mismo explica en su blog , ahí cuenta “lo que pasa y no se cuenta, lo que se ve y no se dice”.
En la charla que mantuvo con Alfonso Fernández Cid nos habla de lo que significa para él la escritura y que opinión tiene de su profesión como periodista, también de sus entrevista favorita, la que realizó al pintor irlandés Francis Bacon. En definitiva, una entrevista en la que se nos muestra a un hombre amigo de sus amigos, amante de su tierra y del fútbol, en la que nos transmite sus sueños y sus inquietudes.
Juan Cruz fue nuestro Autor del mes en junio y participó en nuestros Encuentros Digitales, donde nos hablo sobre sus libros, entre ellos Crónica de la nada hecha pedazos (1973) y Egos revueltos (2009), y sobre el escritor Mario Vargas Llosas y su libro El sueño del celta.
We had the pleasure to welcome journalist Juan Cruz to our series “Meetings at the library”. Born in the Canary Islands, Juan Cruz started to write at the age of 13, and he hasn’t stopped: writer and editor, now he writes a blog about all kind of topics, i.e. about “things that happen and nobody tells, things we see and nobody says” as mentioned in the blog.
In this talk, he explains his idea of literature and his opinion about the job of a journalist. He describes several experiences such us the interview he did to Irish artist Francis Bacon. He also shares his dreams and ambitions and he appears as a truly reliable friend, a passionate of his home land and a football fan.
Juan Cruz was our Author of the month throughout the month of June and he was so kind to take part in our Virtual interviews, where he speaks about his books, including Crónica de la nada hecha pedazos (1973) and Egos revueltos (2009), and about the writer Mario Vargas Llosa and his work The dream of the Celt.
Carlos Gamerro y Juan Cruz se encuentran en el Cervantes de Dublín para hablar sobre dos de los escritores que más han dado que hablar en la literatura del siglo XX: James Joyce y Jorge Luis Borges.
Carlos Gamerro meets Juan Cruz at the Instituto Cervantes Dublin to talk about the impact of two most inspiring writers: James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges.
Hector Barco Cobalea
I’d like to throw out a few questions, and chance being so lucky as to have them answered by Mr. Juan Cruz Ruiz:
– Do you think journalism is truly free, or is it subject to certain interests, not just political, but also economic, in that huge economic and/or political organisations buy advertising space from the main media providers, this being one of their main sources of income?
– What is your take on billions of dollars being shifted in just a few days to save the banks, whilst at the same time, the Food and Agriculture Organization requested 12,000 million dollars to fight hunger across the planet and was turned down?
– Is the average citizen justified in feeling indignant?
Thank you to all involved for enabling me to send in my questions.
Héctor, I had written a long reply, but cyberspace swallowed it up.
Journalism is free to the same extent that people are: within limits. We are all dependent on certain interests. Newspapers as well. Nobody is completely free. The press needs to have strong businesses behind them in order to withstand the pressures on their editorial policies. And that’s why advertising is so necessary; without advertising, newspapers would certainly be at the will of economic and political interests.
The banks were rescued with public money, and they must return that money. Without a doubt, the terms with which they were given the money could have been stricter, but it’s not true that it was given to them freely and lightly, that is just not the case. I agree that they should have been penalised for their insane dealings. But within the capitalist system, if such mechanisms weren’t possible, it would lead to global disaster. Should we change the system? Let’s change it. But, in the meantime, this is what we’re left with.
Of course citizens are justified in feeling indignant. And, not just that, but also, worried, questioning, doubtful. And to act on their indignation, so that it doesn’t anchor them down with futile feelings of powerlessness and depression.
Good afternoon, Mr. Cruz. What motivated Vargas Llosa to write The Dream of the Celt? Was it reading The Heart of Darkness, was it Casement’s link with Peru, or his studies of Adam Hochschild’s work…?
In my opinion, Vargas Llosa always begins writing a new project once his imagination is sparked, and after finishing the fiction work, The Bad Girl, he decided to follow the footsteps of Casement, an Irishman who lived a controversial but fascinating life.
Bringing this life to the masses required an enormous intellectual, literary, and even physical effort, on the part of Vargas Llosa. And the outcome reads like an adventure as told by a special envoy to hell itself.
The author himself explained that it was reading Conrad, in particular, that motivated him to write this spectacular narrative essay. He is a voracious reader; he wanted to really scrutinise the finer details of a character, and that’s where Roger Casement comes in, in full-body portrait, right to the depths of his misfortunes.
Is The Heart of Darkness a racist book, or a damning report of European colonisation? What was the aim of The Dream of the Celt, if indeed there was one?
I don’t think Conrad’s book was racist; from our current perspective on racism, or inequality, we could equally be tempted to condemn Madame Bovary, for example; and I think Conrad’s literature should be read as a great voyage of the mind, rather than a sociological reflection on the author’s ideology or view of the world and himself at that particular moment in time.
Conrad knew Casement and he wrote in this diary that of all the people he had known during his stay in the Congo, it was Casement he admired the most. So why did Joseph Conrad not sign the petition for clemency for Roger Casement, unlike Yeats, Bernard Shaw and Conan Doyle who all signed it?
Vargas Llosa dwelled a lot on that incident; I think Conrad felt cornered and slightly envious and he bore Casement a grudge, being someone who tended not emphasise his own talents, he felt outshone by Casement during his time in Africa. That’s why he left him in the lurch, and frankly, that was very hurtful to Casement. Similar to other times in his life when he felt cast off.
What was the dream that was driving Roger Casement when he arrived in Congo?
It was a philanthropic dream. He truly wanted to play a part in the abolition of slavery there where it was actually taking place, and that’s exactly what he did. Every fibre of his being was devoted to helping people, that was what he lived for, to help others free themselves from the shackles of feudal despotism. It was then used as a symbol which some tried to make controversial by drawing tenuous parallels with his own issues with his sexuality. Vargas Llosa pays him heartfelt tribute, at pains to put right the controversy created by the British.
What does Mario Vargas Llosa have in common with Antonio Conselheiro from The War of the End of the World, Alejandro Mayta from The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, and with Roger Casement?
I think the only thing Vargas Llosa has in common with those characters is that he worked out the minutest details of their lives with the same intensity he then gave to their lives within the storyline, so that they would live on, and stand the test of time, in the minds of his readers.
A critic once broke Vargas Llosa’s novels down into 4 broad categories: urbane, historical, dealing with rural Peru, and erotic novels. Could we consider The Dream of the Celt a historical novel?
I think putting The Dream of the Celt into the historical box would be to take away some of its power and impact. From my point of view, aside from being a novel which has its roots in history, it is more a great anachronistic, or even uchronic, report on a fascinating era by both Mario, the reporter, and Vargas Llosa, the novelist. And it is also a wartime plea for human rights, a book denouncing slavery in favour of romanticism, as man’s conviction to live in harmony with his fellow kind.
Are there any elements in The Dream of the Celt which are new to Vargas Llosa’s work?
I think what is new is the book in its entirety; Vargas Llosa always approaches a subject from a completely new standpoint. He could have put together an essay of the proportions of a novella, based on his readings, and he read widely around the subject. Instead, he honed in on the different areas of Roger’s biography, brought them together onto the one platform in his mind, and from there he went on to create a volume in which he demonstrated his skills as a reconstructor of stories, but also, as a great fiction author. He has never said so himself, never actually specified it, but Mario Vargas Llosa, the fiction author, is also present in The Dream of the Celt.
If García Márquez’s work could be seen as a portrayal of power, and its vestiges, could Vargas Llosa’s work be seen as a portrayal of the resistance to or the growing awareness of that power?
I think that’s a good analogy. But, actually, I think all of Mario Vargas Llosa’s work has to do with power, even when it seems more to do with other subjects. Particularly, A Fish in the Water, which despite having been written in the midst of the biographical journey he was undertaking at the time, it is like the mid-point in which all of his ambitions, tragedies, and the majority of his books converge.
Vargas Llosa, Cabrera Infante and José Saramago. These are perhaps the three authors, and friends, who have most influenced your literary life. Is that right? Are there any others you would add?
My life in particular? Perhaps. I would add Onetti and Borges. And also, Unamuno’s poetry. And Kafka. Well, literature is never-ending. Oh, and Cortázar.
In 1972, you published “Crónica de la nada hecha pedazos”. You said that all of your work published in book format originates from this book, because it was in this book you began using reality to narrate your obsessions, dreams, and how those dreams can be broken. Tell us about your broken dreams. Are there any still lingering around?
My broken dreams are still around. Those that aren’t are the ones I haven’t been able to break.
“Crónica de la nada…” is a sesentayochista chronicle [referring to the revolution of 1968] turned into a novel. Do you think one day there will be a 15M [common abbreviation for the mass protest held on the 15th May 2011, in Madrid, against political mismanagement of the economic crisis] chronicle, or would that be a book that would be worth writing?
It should be written. I’ve just interviewed Javier Cercas about the subject. He is very clear on how (extremely) important this phenomenon is. Something is changing, without a doubt, and for the better, despite this endless tide of injustice and corruption we are going through at the moment.
The presence of the sea is fundamental in “Retrato de un hombre desnudo” (2005). What does it symbolise?
The sea is life, and thus, it is also death. I was writing a book about the sea as life, and then death turned up out of nowhere. Life has such gravity, it fells us all.
In reference to “Retrato de un hombre…”, imbued as it is with many’s a travel anecdote, you said that no matter how much a person travels, “they are always in the same place”. Which is the place in which you always find yourself? And would you ever like to escape?
That’s a phrase by Beckett, and actually he was talking about his relationship with Ireland: “poor me, I thought I had left the island behind me, but the island is always by my side”.
That’s the way it is. My book is based by the sea, so that I can escape, and all of sudden, I see myself as part of the sea, the sea comes with me.
Verne and Dickens are some of the authors you read in your teenage years as mentioned in “Retrato de un hombre desnudo”. Were there other authors before those who also had an important effect on you? Which were the authors, or books, that made you a writer?
Before that there were the instruction leaflets that come inside boxes of pills, old torn newspapers my mother had, anything that was susceptible to being read, and an old book by Oscar Wilde, “The Nightingale and the Rose”.
In “Retrato de un hombre desnudo”, you pay homage to your mother, from whom you said you have learnt more than from any other person. “Ojalá octubre” (2007) is a homage to your father. Which questions, or desires, did Juan the boy inherit from him?
Uncertainty, things were always about to be either very miserable or very happy, and they were almost always miserable. But there were also wonderful moments in which he was happy. That’s the way I am, I come from him.
Was it your childhood from that October which you would have liked to have continued forever?
I would like the feeling of childhood to continue forever. To go through all stages of life with the feeling of harmony you capture as a child.
In “Muchas veces me pediste que te contara estos años” (2008), you reflect on time, memory, pain, and growing older. Has this reflection led to any conclusions?
It’s a triple reflection which merges into one: our lives are inside of us, on our interior, and inside everything is mixed together into one whole. I am my literature, it explodes inside me. Does that seem pedantic? I’m afraid that’s the way I see it, if you don’t like my answer then forget it, but what I mean is: for me, writing is all of those things, time, memory, pain, and fear of dying. And if what I write doesn’t respond to those precepts, then I feel like I am merely worthlessly distorting my thoughts.
Comparing your first book to your current work, it seems like you have given up a certain experimentalism for a lighter style. Is that one of the concessions caused by the commercialisation of the publishing world you mention in “Egos revueltos” (2009)?
Oh, not at all, LMartín. It’s simply that over the years I decided to write so that my brothers would read my work, ever since a particular text I wrote so that we would never forget the wonderful woman that was my mother. It’s deliberate, but my brothers don’t buy my books. They feature in them. Except “Egos revueltos”, for certain, although they’re in there somewhere, in some way or another.
Would any current publishers dare to publish a new James Joyce?
Of course they would. That’s what a publisher’s job should be. To wait for a James Joyce to come along.
On the subject of cultural journalism, there are those who insist that it generally displays a total lack of interest in culture. Do you agree with that? What is there left in the cultural pages of a newspaper if we take away the obituaries and press releases from the various publishers’ and institutions’ press departments?
I think any maximalist views run the risk of being unfair. There are some great cultural journalists, particularly in Latin America, where this type of journalism has become a specialism. And there are some very good ones closer to home as well. And there are very good sources of information on culture out there, despite what you say. Don’t be unfair, my friend!
Thank you very much for your participation.
Profile of Juan Cruz on elpais.com, with links to his articles and interviews
About Mario Vargas Llosa and “The dream of the Celt”
About Roger Casement
Juan Cruz is our author of the month throughout the month of June.
Juan Cruz Ruiz, periodista, escritor y editor nacido en el Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife) en 1948 es nuestro autor del mes de junio de 2011.
Juan Cruz estudió Periodismo e Historia en la Universidad de La Laguna y comenzó a escribir en prensa en el semanario Aire Libre con sólo trece años de edad.
Es miembro fundador de El País, donde ejerció también tareas muy diversas, entre otras, la de corresponsal en Londres, jefe de Opinión y redactor jefe de Cultura. Actualmente es adjunto a la dirección del periódico.
Juan Cruz nos visitará el próximo día 16 de junio para hablarnos sobre “El sueño del celta”, última novela del Premio Nobel Mario Vargas Llosa el martes 14 de junio, a las 18h, en nuestro Café Literario.
Con él celebraremos nuestra entrevista digital mensual. Ya podéis enviar vuestras preguntas sobre sus obras, o sobre Mario Vargas Llosa. Juan responderá a ellas el mismo día 14 de junio, de 16.30h a 17.30h, hora de Dublín.
Juan Cruz, journalist, writer and editor was born in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, in 1948. He is our author of the month in June 2011.
He studied Journalism and History in the Universidad de la Laguna, Tenerife, and started writing for the press in the weekly sports newspaper Aire Libre, at just thirteen years of age.
He is one of the founding members of Spanish newspaper El País, where he has performed a wide variety of roles, amongst others, correspondent for London, head of the Opinion and Analysis section, and editor in chief of the Culture section. He is currently Assistant Director of the newspaper.
Juan Cruz will discuss “The Dream of the Celt”, the most recent novel, recently published in English, by Mario Vargas Llosa, 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, on Tuesday 14th June, at 6pm in our Café Literario, here at Instituto Cervantes.
We will also be hosting a virtual interview with Juan on our library’s blog, whereby you can ask him questions about his own work or that of Mario Vargas Llosa. You can send in your questions as of now, Juan will answer them live on Tuesday 14th June, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.