Javier Marías: a literary icon

The recent death of writer, translator and columnist Javier Marías (1951-2022) has deeply saddened the literary world. His unique style of writing, his wittiness and his exquisite command of language (in Spanish and in English) won him numerous accolades and many followers both in Spain and abroad. His death on 11 September at the age of 70 came far too early for a writer in his prime who many believed was an obvious candidate for the Nobel prize in Literature. 

El hombre que no parecía saber nada by Javier Marías
Javier Marías (El hombre que no parecía querer nada, 744:39.c.95.435)

Javier Marías graduated in Philosophy and Literature from the Complutense University of Madrid. He taught Spanish literature and translation theory at the University of Oxford between 1983 and 1985, at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1984, and at the Complutense University of Madrid between 1986 and 1990. 

He made his debut as a writer at the age of nineteen with his novel Los dominios del lobo and had an extensive and prolific career. Translation shaped and influenced his work. Throughout his career, he expertly translated Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Browne, Vladimir Nabokov and Lawrence Sterne, amongst other writers (he won the Fray Luis de León national translation award for his translation of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy in 1979). 

His works have been translated into more than forty languages and published in over fifty countries.  He wrote sixteen novels, eight essays and six short stories, as well as his regular weekly column for the Spanish newspaper El País. In 2006, he was elected to the Real Academia de la Lengua Española (Royal Spanish Academy), the institution responsible for preserving the unity and effective use of the Spanish language in the Spanish speaking world. And, in 2021, he became a member of Britain’s Royal Society of Literature as an International Writer, the first Spanish writer to obtain this distinction. 

The University Library has good coverage of his works in Spanish as well as in English translation. His best-known works appear below, listed in order of appearance more or less: 

The Library also has electronic access to his works Lección pasada de moda: letras de lengua (Digitalia Hispánica, available here) and Donde todo ha sucedido: al salir del cine (Digitalia Hispánica, available here). You can see a list of English translations of his works clicking here

Sonia Morcillo

The visitors’ album of María Luisa Aub : a hidden treasure

The visitors’ album of María Luisa Aub came to the University Library in 2018. María Luisa (1927-2013), affectionally called “Mimín” by family and friends, was the eldest daughter of Mexican-Spanish writer Max Aub. She had close links to Cambridge, having lived in the city for over 25 years, but she also lived in exile in Mexico for many years. 

Continue reading

Francia Márquez, the first Afro-Colombian vice-president

On 19th June 2022, after a second round of voting, the Colombian people elected their first ever left-wing government, led by Gustavo Petro, with Francia Márquez as vice-president, the first ever Afro-Colombian and only the second woman to hold the position. In this post, we will focus on this trailblazing woman, who studied Law specifically to be prepared to defend the rights of her people, and on the context that led her and her country to this new chapter in their history.

Francia Elena Márquez Mina was born in 1981 in Yolombó, in the Cauca Department on the West coast of Colombia, one of the areas of the country where enslaved populations from Africa have lived since the 17th century. Traditionally in this region, Black slaves were forced to work in gold mining, sugarcane plantations and cattle ranches. To this day, the impact of exploitatative and extractivist practices on peoples, territories and resources in the region are still painfully relevant and have been part of Francia Márquez’s life experience since her earliest formative years, which would lead her to become a committed activist from the age of 17 years old. This life experience remains the basis of her politics, as she makes the move from activism to mainstream politics. Continue reading

The first comprehensive study of the cartonera phenomenon

We are very pleased to announce the launch of the book Taking Form, Making Worlds: Cartonera Publishers in Latin America, on Friday 10th June at 4pm at Centre of Latin American Studies (Alison Richard Building, Seminar Room 204). 

Lucy Bell (Senior Lecturer in Spanish and translation studies, University of Surrey), Alexander Ungprateeb Flynn (Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, UCLA) and Patrick O’Hare (UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, University of St. Andrews) have collaborated with the University Library in the building up of our cartonera collection . They will be presenting and discussing their new book, the first comprehensive study of cartonera, in conversation with David Lehmann (University of Cambridge) and Clara Panozzo (Latin American and Iberian Collections, Cambridge University Library). The book is published by the University of Texas Press and is available online for Cambridge users here.

Drawing on interdisciplinary research conducted across Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, the authors show how this hands-on practice has fostered a politically engaged network of writers, artists, and readers. More than a social movement, cartonera uses texts, workshops, encounters, and exhibitions to foster community and engagement through open-ended forms that are at once creative and social.  

(from the publisher’s description) 

You are all kindly invited to attend! 

Clara Panozzo 

“Write about something that has never happened to people who have never existed” 

Angélica Gorodischer, by Nicolasgoro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Such was the recipe for storytelling of Angélica Gorodischer, the Argentine award-winning author who passed away a month ago, on February 5th, in her beloved hometown of Rosario at the age of 93 years old. Her books were translated into several languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Czech and Russian, and although it was not the only genre she was prolific in, she is mainly known for her science fiction works. Continue reading