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Ángel González

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 1985

The master of poetry committed to humanity, dyed with a fine irony and humour, Ángel González (Oviedo, Asturias, Spain, 1925 – Madrid, Spain, 2008), poet and teacher of literature, belongs to the group known as the "50s generation" or the half-century generation.

His childhood was marked by the shadow of the civil war and by the premature death of his father when he was scarcely two years old. In fact, it was to be in his father´s library, which he had left "as a family heirloom" where he first took to reading, although it was in a little village in the Leonese mountains where, while convalescing from a serious lung infection, he felt the call of poetry and wrote his first verses.

The experience of the war was to appear in his first book, Áspero mundo, published in 1956 and with which he obtained a special mention in the Adonis Prize. In it he ordered a series of experiences arising from the trauma of the Spanish Civil War into a contrast between two worlds: that of childhood, of cloudy sensations, and of cruel reality, hard, harsh outlines.

From then on, his position in the face of the world becomes clearer and more militant. In writing Sin esperanza, con convencimiento in 1961, he then included a social analysis of the causes of the defeat and came to be clearly classified as one of the group of social poets. Ángel González later abandoned this attitude to concentrate on poetry which bears witness to his own experience of reality and where there exists a preoccupation for the word in itself, for the "mot juste", precise, almost unavoidable expression. The passage of time, civic and love affairs, are three obsessions which are repeated all through his poems. His third book, Grado elemental (1962) was granted the "Antonio Machado" Prize in Colliure, in memory of a poet whom Ángel González admires profoundly. Palabra sobre palabra (1965), Tratado de urbanismo (1967), Breves acotaciones para una biografía (1971), Procedimientos narrativos (1972), Muestras de algunos procedimientos narrativos y de las actitudes sentimentales que habitualmente comportan (1976) and Prosemas o menos (1984) are other books of his.

His complete works, which include previously unpublished poems, have been published on three occasions, the last one in barcelona, in 1986, always with the title Palabra sobre palabra.

He is likewise the author of various critical works on Juan Ramón Jiménez (1973), the Generation of ´27 (1976), Gabriel Celaya (1977) and Antonio Machado (1979).

Ángel González was a school teacher, graduate in Law from the University of Oviedo and in Journalism from the Official School of Journalism of Madrid, he also worked in the Ministry of Public Works, from which he was on sabbatical as a civil servant. At the time of writing, he teaches Contemporary Spanish Literature at the University of Alberquerque, USA, having been a visiting lecturer at the universities of New Mexico, Utah, Maryland and Texas.

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