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Francisco Ayala

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 1998

Francisco Ayala García-Duarte (Granada, Spain, 1906 – Madrid, Spain, 2009) moved to Madrid in order to take up his university studies. With degrees in Law and in Philosophy and Letters, he went on to earn his PhD in Law, and in 1934 he became full professor of Political Law at the Universidad de La Laguna (Tenerife). After the Civil War he exiled himself to Argentina, where he resided until 1950 and collaborated with diverse news media. Later he moved to Puerto Rico and afterwards to the United States, where he was professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Chicago, returning to Spain in 1960.

He published his first novel, Tragicomedia de un hombre sin espíritu, in 1925. He was involved with the Ortega y Gasset group and collaborated with the Revista de Occidente from the outset. His prolific output includes novels, sociological essays, and literary criticism, and in all of these genres the hallmarks of Ayala´s narrative style are present: sarcasm and disenchantment. His sociological writings and studies constitute a great help in understanding some of the social and cultural phenomena of our time. Standing out among his novels are El boxeador y un ángel (1929), Los usurpadores (1949), Al fondo del vaso (1962), and De triunfos y penas (1982); and among his essays, such titles as Historia de la libertad (1943), Tecnología y libertad (1959), Cervantes y Quevedo (1974), and El escritor y su imagen (1975).

In 1972 he received the Critics´ Award for El jardín de las delicias and, in 1983, the National Literature Award for Recuerdos y olvidos; that same year he was selected as a member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and in 1991 he was the recipient of the Cervantes Prize.

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