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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Arturo Uslar Pietri

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 1990

Arturo Uslar Pietri (Caracas, Venezuela, 1906 – 2001) doctored in Political Science, he moved to Paris, the city where he would stay from 1929 to 1934. It was during this period, in fact, when he wrote "Las lanzas coloradas", which was to become one of his best-known works. Back in his own country, Uslar Pietri was to have an outstanding political career. He was the Minister for Education (1939-41), Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic (1941-43 and 1944-45), Minister of the Exchequer (1943) and Minister for Internal Affairs (1945).

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Despite this evident political vocation, Uslar Pietri has defined himself as a non-committed writer, "because I have always exercised my freedom of conscience."

His constant preoccupation for cultural, educational and scientific matters led him to cooperate intensely, at different times, with UNESCO. From 1975 to 1978 he was the Permanent Ambassador Delegate to the organisation in Paris. Uslar Pietri has also been a minister of the Administrative Council and the Executive Committee of the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture, a UNESCO subsidiary, until, in 1976 he was elected as a member of the Executive Council of the organisation, and in 1978, Vice-President of the same Council.

Since almost forty years ago (at the time of writing), Arturo Uslar Pietri has been working constantly in journalism. He was published weekly, since 1946, in more than twenty newspaper in twenty Spanish-speaking countries, a column of comment on politics, culture and history, with the title "Pizarrón". Between 1969 and 1974, he ran "El Nacional", in Caracas; and from 1953 to 1987 he had a weekly television programme called "Valores humanos", consisting of a half-hour chat about history, politics, culture and all kinds of current world problems. He has also made two series for Venezuelan TV: "Cuéntame a Venezuela" and "Raíces venezolanas". A clear defender of democratic systems, a subject about which he has written on numerous occasions, Uslar Pietri embodies liberal humanism in Spanish America. In his opinion, the cultural mix resulting from the three way meeting between the European, the Indian and the Negro, was the basis of Spanish-American literature.

He wrote, Las lanzas coloradas (1931), El camino de El Dorado (1947), El laberinto de fortuna (1964), Oficio de difuntos (1976), La isla de Robinson (1981), El globo de colores (1975), Barrabás y otros relatos (1928), Red (1936), Treinta hombres y sus sombras (1949), Pasos pasajeros (1965), Los ganadores (1979), los ensayos Las nubes (1951), Del hacer y deshacer de Venezuela (1963), En busca del nuevo mundo (1968), La otra América (1974), Fantasmas de dos mundos (1978) and Godos, insurgentes y visionarios (1985).. Uslar Pietri´s works have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Rumanian, Czechoslovak, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Hebrew, Swedish, Danish, Chinese and Bulgarian.

Winner of the Arístides Rojas Prize for the novel El camino de El Dorado and of National Literature Prize (1953) for Las nubes, Uslar Pietri also received, among other distinctions, the National Prize for Journalism (1971), the Miguel de Cervantes Hispano-American Press Award (1973), the Writers Association of Venezuela Award for La isla de Robinsón (1981), the José Vasconcelos Award in Mexico (1988), the Rómulo Gallegos Award (1991) and the Alfonso Reyes Award (1998). He received honorary degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, the Central University of Venezuela, Paris Nanterre University and the Simón Bolívar University, Caracas. Among other distinctions, he held the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Liberator and was Grand Officer of the Order of Boyacá (Colombia), the Order of the Condor of the Andes (Bolivia) and the Order of Isabella the Catholic, as well as holding the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour. He was also a corresponding member of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE).

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