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Miguel Delibes and Gonzalo Torrente Ballester

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 1982

In both cases their capacity of invention and description has been displayed in a masterful control of the Spanish language, which guarantees their survival in the history of Spanish literature.

Miguel Delibes Setién

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Miguel Delibes Setién (Valladolid, Spain, 1920 - 2010), writer, journalist and academic, was born in Valladolid in 1920. He is a graduate in Law, commercial administrator and journalist. He was employed in banking and also worked as a caricaturist. For some years he ran the newspaper El Norte de Castilla and it was at the time he was on the paper that he received the news that he had been granted the Nadal Prize for novels for his work La sombra de los cipreses es alargada. The year was 1947; Delibes was then twenty-seven years old, and in that moment he decided to begin what was to be a brilliant literary career. He later recognised that it was this first prize which drove him to write. As a creator, Delibes fits into the line of writers for whom the novel should be, somehow, a reflection of life. In his own words, a novel requires, at least, a man, a landscape, a passion; without these - he says - there can be no novel. His work is fundamental intertested in questions which concern us in daily life, and the themes he handles reflect a social and human background. Among the constant themes of his work, death, nature, the dislike of war, hunting, childhood and the esential solitude of the human being may be highlighted. The defence of nature and of the art of hunting have been, furthermore, two passions which have concerned him all through his life.

As far as his technique and style are concerned, scholars of Delibes´ work distinguish various phases: the first, characterised by the abundance of descriptions and the use of clearly traditional narrative frameworks; the second, in which his language is trimmed down, giving it great agility, perception and simplicity; and the third, in which the writer dives into a more symbolic, singular and personal world, with more complex ideas, to develop themes such as the dehumanization of contemporary man and the criticism of literature from literature itself, using, to do this, the most varied resources of the experimental novel. Among the more than fifty titles which he has published are: El camino (1950), Mi idolatrado hijo Sisí (1953), Diario de un cazador (1955), Diario de un emigrante (1957), Las ratas (1962), La hoja roja (1962), Cinco horas con Mario (1967), Parábola del náufrago (1970), El príncipe destronado (1973), Las guerras de nuestros antepasados (1975), El disputado voto del señor Cayo (1978), Los santos inocentes (1981), Madera de héroe (1987) and Mi vida al aire libre (1989). He has also written volumes of short stories, such as "Siestas con viento sur" (1959), "La caza de la perdiz roja" (1963) and "Viejas historias de Castilla la Vieja" (1987) and other, travel works, such as "Europa, parada y fonda" (1963), "USA y yo" (1966) and "La primavera de Praga" (1968).

Some of his novels have been adapted for cinema: El camino (1962); Mi idolatrado hijo Sisí, under the title Retrato de familia (1976); El príncipe destronado with the name La guerra de Pap" (1977); the excellent "Los santos inocentes", by Mario Camús; "El disputado voto del señor Cayo" in 1986 and later, "La sombra del ciprés es alargada". "Cinco horas con Mario" and "La guerra de nuestros antepasados", adapted for theatre, have been great hits, played by Lola Herrera and José Sacristán.

Member of the Academia de la Lengua since 1974, and doctor honoris causa of the Universities of Saarbrucken (German Federal Republic), Valladolid and the Complutense University of Madrid, in 1984 he obtained the "Libro de Oro" Prize, granted by the Asociación Española de Gremios y Asociaciones de Libreros. He is also winner of the National Literature Prize (1955 and 1998), Crititics´ Prize (1962), and the "Castilla y León" and "Ciudad de Barcelona" Prizes for Literature, "Letras Españolas" Prize (1991) and Cervantes Prize (1993).

Gonzalo Torrente Ballester

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Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (Ferrol, La Coruña, Spain, 1910 – Salamanca, Spain, 1999), considered to be one of the greatest authors of the contemporary Spanish novel,  obtained his degree in Philosophy and Arts from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1935 and the following year gained his first post in teaching, an activity which he has combined with literature all life long. His love of writing began before he was twenty years' old. He himself recalls that, for a bet, he wrote a sort of pastiche of a Western novel when he was seventeen.

In 1937 he made friends in Salamanca with Dionisio Ridruejo, Antonio Tovar, Luis Felipe Vivanco and Pedro Laín. At this time he began to publish articles in the magazine Escorial.  From 1947 onwards his creative work intensified, writing at the same time as teaching, producing essays, theatre, novels, short stories and even history books. For fiteen years he wwas also to publish regular contributions as theatre critic for the daily paper Arriba.

In 1962 his life took a major turn when, as the result of the inclusion of his signature on a document supporting the demands of the Asturian strikers, he was expelled from all the official media in which he appeared, both press and radio. A few months later, upon receiving an invitation from the University of Albany to teach Spanish Literature, he accepted and moved to the United States, the country where he was to live for several years. On his return to Spain, he taught in Vigo, later taking over his department in a high school in Salamanca, where he was to teach Spanish Language and Literature until his retirement.

His first published novel, Javier Mariño (1943) was followed by El golpe de estado de Guadalupe Limón (1946), Ifigenia (1950) and two books of observations and criticism: Panorama del teatro español contemporáneo and El libro de Compostela. Between 1957 and 1962 he finished his trilogy Los gozos y las sombras (El señor llega, Donde da la vuelta el aire and La Pascua triste), which would later be succesfully adapted for television. He then wrote Don Juan (1963), Off-side (1969) and Fragmentos de Apocalipsis (1977). In 1972 he published La saga/fuga de J.B., a fundamenttal title in the author's work and one of the most important contemporary Spaish novels. A work of fantasy, in which myth and reality go hand in hand, the force of its prose and its imagination make it into an outstanding work.

In 1981, forty-two years after being granted this award for the first time, Torrente Ballester won the National Literature Prize again for his novel La isla de los jacintos cortados. He has also obtained the Prize of the Juan March Foundation, the City of Barcelona Prize for Novels, the Critics' Prize and the Cervantes Prize (1985). In 1988 he received the Planeta Prize for his work Fiomeno, a mi pesar, and at the end of 1989 he published Crónica del rey pasmado.

Doctor honoris causa of the University of Salamanca, Torrente Ballester has been a numerary member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language.

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