José Manuel Caballero Bonald Intellectual Autobiography

José Manuel Caballero Bonald

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José Manuel Caballero Bonald and Julio Neira
José Manuel Caballero Bonald, direction

Poet, novelist, essayist, memorialist and Premio Cervantes 2012 awardee, José Manuel Caballero Bonald (Jerez de la Frontera, 1926) comes to the Fundación to offer his "Intellectual autobiography", reviewing his vital and creative trajectory. And he will do so in dialogue with Julio Neira, Professor of Spanish Literature in the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia.

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  1. José Manuel Caballero BonaldJosé Manuel Caballero Bonald

    Poeta, novelista y ensayista, nació en Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, en 1926. Estudió Astronomía en Cádiz y más tarde Filosofía y Letras en Sevilla y Madrid. Pertenece al grupo poético de los 50 junto a José Ángel Valente, Claudio Rodríguez, José Agustín Goytisolo y Jaime Gil de Biedma, entre otros. Vivió fuera de España por varios años y a su regreso trabajó en el Seminario de Lexicografía de la Real Academia Española. Obtuvo el Premio Boscán y de la Crítica de Poesía en 1959, el Biblioteca Breve en 1961, el de la Crítica de Novela en 1975, el de la Crítica de Poesía en 1978, el Plaza y Janés en 1988, el Premio Andalucía de las Letras en 1994, el XIII Premio de Poesía Iberoamericana Reina Sofía en 2004, el Premio Nacional de Letras en 2005, el Premio Nacional de Poesía 2008 y el Premio Cervantes 2012. En 1996 fue nombrado Hijo Predilecto de Andalucía. De su obra poética se destacan: Las adivinaciones (1952), Memorias de poco tiempo (1954), Pliegos de cordel (1963), Vivir para contarlo (1969), La costumbre de vivir (1975), Toda la noche oyeron pasar pájaros (1981), Tiempo de guerras perdidas (1995), Diario de Argónida (1997), Copias del natural (1999) y Manual de infractores (2005). Su última obra es Oficio de Lector (2013).

  2. Julio NeiraJulio Neira

    Nacido en Madrid, en 1954, es catedrático de Literatura Española de la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia. Doctor en Filología desde 1981 con una tesis pionera sobre el poeta surrealista malagueño José María Hinojosa, ha publicado numerosos libros y artículos en las principales revistas filológicas y en volúmenes colectivos sobre las figuras de la poesía española contemporánea; entre otros sobre Manuel Altolaguirre, Emmilio Pardos y la revista Litoral, Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre, Jorge Guillén, Luis Cernuda, José Moreno Villa, Gerardo Diego, José María de Cossío, Blas de Otero, José Hierro, José Antonio Muñoz Rojas, Ángel González, Luis García Montero, Lorenzo Oliván, etc. A él se debe el primer tratado universitario sobre problemas ecdóticos (La edición de textos: poesía española contemporánea (2003) y es un destacado editor de epistolarios entre poetas contemporáneos. En 2007 obtuvo el Premio de Investigación del Consejo Social de la Universidad de Málaga por su estudio Manuel Altolaguirre, impresor y editor, publicado en coedición con la Residencia de Estudiantes. También es autor de los volúmenes de ensayos La quimera de los sueños. Claves de la poesía del Veintisiete (2009) y Trasluz de vida. Doce escorzos de Gerardo Diego (2013), del estudio Historia poética de Nueva York en la España contemporánea (2012), así como de la antología Geometría y angustia. Poetas españoles en Nueva York (2012).


    En el último decenio ha compaginado la investigación filológica con la gestión cultural. Entre 2003 y 2008 fue director del Centro Cultural Generación del 27 de la Diputación de Málaga. Entre 2008 y 2011 fue Coordinador General del Centro Andaluz de las Letras (Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía). Y entre febrero de 2011 y junio de 2012 ha sido Director General del Libro Archivos y Bibliotecas de la Junta de Andalucía. Reincorporado a su cátedra a principios del presente curso, prepara un estudio sobre José Manuel Caballero Bonald.

     

     

     

     

     

José Manuel Caballero Bonald (Jerez de la Frontera, 1926) is without doubt the most important living personality of the Spanish letters, and the unanimous satisfaction with which his 2012 Cervantes Award laurate was received is proof of that. He learned to love adventure being a child with the novels of Salgari, Verne, Stevenson, London, Conrad, etc., and studied to become a seaman, until he learned that the adventure was not on the sea, a source unexpected perils, but in literature, which finally influenced his vocation to become a writer.

A prolific author, but very demanding with the quality of his finished work, who has published eleven books of poems, five novels, two books of memories, and numerous ethnographic essays (wine, dance, traditions from Baja Andalucía, Seville during the Spanish Golden Age, painting, etc.), as well as tales, travel accounts and literary studies, which together with his research work on the pure roots of flamenco singing, makes him one of the main intellectual figures of our time. All of his literary work, both fiction and memories or essays, has two convergent vectors as the starting point: an autobiographic origin that provides all of his production an unusual plot coherence, and an unmistakable conviction that literature is above all an experience of the language, where creation only happens in the act of writing. His will of style provides all of his work with an unmistakable identity.

His creative productivity and the tendency to rebellion that characterizes his youth, make his poetry insubordinate to the aesthetic standards of the time, and allows him to go beyond the temporal limits he sets himself. This way, once we were convinced that his poetry world was finalized with the publication of Diario de Argónida (1997), his own ethic imperatives that have guided all of his career, obliged him to write Manuel de infractores (2005), a book where his anger for the injustice of war and the actions of the government of Aznar is clearly visible. This was followed by La noche no tiene paredes (2009) where he reconsiders some personal episodes in conclusive terms and applying some stylistic modifications to enhance communication. But it is in Entreguerras (2012), where the author faces everyone and everywhere, providing us with the most unusual book of poetry tradition: an autobiographic testimony of more than 3.500 verses with precise structure and splendid verbal power, which is at the same time an exercise of soul-searching, a heritage of experiences, and a loyalty manifest towards the baroque conception of the poetic language. Due to its quality and creative vitality, this is the finalization of an unparalleled senesce cycle in the last century.

In Caballero Bonald's narrative, fiction and reality are merged in variable doses. Within his fictions it is possible to identify autobiographic episodes that work together with fabulous plot mechanisms to develop the narrative. This is the case of his knowledge on the world of vineyards and wineries in Dos días de septiembre (1962), or his own life experiences in the Coto de Doñana within the unreal and mythological Ágata ojo de gato (1974), two novels that in my opinion should hold relevant places within the contemporary Spanish narrative. And the same is true for the cerebral pathologic symptoms that the main character of Campo de Agramante (1992) suffers.

His two volumes of memories Tiempo de guerras perdidas (1995) and La costumbre de vivir (2001) are excellent examples of his art for narrating his own life assisted by drops of fiction to cover for memory lags or omissions, maybe random or  maybe voluntary. This is why, the title of the refunded edition of these two books in a single one is so appropriate: La novela de la memoria (2010), the novel of memory.

The whole of his work allows us to reconstruct a maverick personality, a tenacious advocate of human rights and inflexible with injustice. A personality whose political position has always been identified with the fight for freedom. This led him to have an active participation in the opposition to Franco, in which he got involved through Dionisio Ridruejo, with whom he shared prison for a month in 1966. He later collaborated with the Communist Party by representing it in several collective organs during the Spanish Transition, and although he was never a militant. As easy as it is to identify within his work his compromise with aesthetic quality, the same is true for his compromise with his ethics and convictions: fighting for freedom and justice, defending the those unprivileged and needed like the republicans suffering political repression during the postwar or the gipsies that have been oppressed for centuries. His voice has managed to maintain dignity and integrity throughout his long career. I cannot find a better example of vitality, social compromise and literary value for future generations.