Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) attributed to Juan de Jáuregui (via Wikipedia).
The Premio Miguel de Cervantes is the highest recognition that a Spanish-language writer can achieve. It is an acknowledgement of those whose work has notably enriched Spanish literary heritage. Thus, this prize recognises the career of an outstanding writer. It was created in 1975 in honour of the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, the most universally known Spanish text and the first modern novel. This literary prize has been awarded annually by the Spanish Ministry of Culture since 1976.
Candidates are proposed by the Real Academia Española (founded in 1713) and all the National Academies of the Spanish language in the different Spanish speaking countries (23 in total). The jury is comprised of literary and academic authorities, in addition to the most recent awardees. Traditionally the prize is given one year to a Spanish author and the following to a Latin American, although this is not a rule. Continue reading →
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.
Less than two weeks after the death of his close friend Juan Gelman, a fellow Cervantes Prize winner and near neighbour in the Condesa district of Mexico City, the great Mexican writer José Emilio Pacheco passed away on January 26, 2014.
Whilst Gelman (having very personal experience of the horrors of right-wing dictatorship) was outspoken in his left-wing allegiances, Pacheco was much more politically ambiguous and ambivalent in his writing. His most popular work, the novella Las batallas en el desierto (classmark: 9743.d.1564), looked back on a fictionalised adolescence during the post-war presidency of Miguel Alemán (1946-1952) – a period of great optimism, growth and development in Mexico’s history. However, rather than straightforward nostalgia, the story reveals the seeds of corruption and inequality that would come to trouble the country’s growing population throughout the 20th century. Continue reading →
This image is taken from the Presidency of the Nation of Argentina website, in accordance with the copyright licensing.
The great Argentinean poet Juan Gelman passed away on January 14th at the age of 83. He received the Cervantes Prize, the most important Spanish literary award, in 2007, and many of his peers and followers argue that he was the first writer to create a truly Argentinean form of poetry. Certainly, his life and work were inextricably connected to the troubled history of his home country. A prominent journalist and left-wing political activist as well as a poet, like many of his fellow countrymen and artists he was forced into exile following the 1976 coup. He never again lived in Argentina, and exile was a prominent theme throughout much of his later writing – dealt with in works such as Bajo la lluvia ajena from Interrupciones (classmark: 9007.c.6796-6797) and, with reference to his Jewish parents’ own exile from Russia, Dibaxu (classmark: 2002.8.1688).
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