1989 Nobel Prize in Literature
Camilo José Cela
"for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability."
  • 19 October 1989 (1989-10-19) (announcement)
  • 10 December 1989
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
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The 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Spanish writer Camilo José Cela, 1st Marquis of Iria Flavia (1916–2002) "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability."[1] He is the fifth Nobel recipient from Spain after the poet Vicente Aleixandre in 1977.[2][3]


Main article: Camilo José Cela

Experiencing the Spanish Civil War left its mark on Camilo José Cela's writing. He also experiments with form and content in his writing, which is a feature of the Spanish tradition of humorous grotesquerie. La familia de Pascual Duarte ("The Family of Pascual Duarte", 1942) and La colmena ("The Hive", 1951), are two of his most well-known compositions. While General Francisco Franco's dictatorship in Spain was in effect, he served as editor of the publication Papeles de Son Armadáns and gave voice to those who wanted to express themselves freely.[4] One of his better-known avant-garde novels, San Camilo, 1936 (1969), is one continuous stream of consciousness. He has also written the famous Galician trilogy: Mazurca para dos muertos ("Mazurka for Two Dead People", 1983), La cruz de San Andrés ("St. Andrew's Cross", 1994), and Madera de boj ("Boxwood", 1999).[2][4]


Some scholars questioned the Swedish Academy's choice of Cela over the internationally better known Spanish-language writers Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz (awarded the following year). Others thought it was a conventional, safe choice of an author with his greatest productivity and impact largely behind him, and that a bolder choice would have been an East German writer or Salman Rushdie.[3]

Julio Ortega, a professor of Hispanic studies at Brown University, said that Cela symbolized a changing, modernizing Spain. "Among the older writers," he said, "Cela represents the searching for a better literature from the Franco years, through the democratic experiments and into European Spain. At the same time, he remained very Spanish, keeping the cultural traditions of Spanish art and literature in his writing. He didn't follow a European literature, but developed his own style, and so, in his way, symbolized Spain's going through a long process of adjustment."[3]

In Spain, the Nobel prize to Cela was celebrated. Jorge Semprún, Cultural Minister of Spain and himself a writer, said: "It's great news for Spanish literature. He is one of our great prose writers." Cela himself said: "I offer it to all Spanish literature. I think other Spanish and Latin American writers in Spanish could have won it as well as me."[3]


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1989 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ a b Camilo José Cela nobelprize.org
  3. ^ a b c d Sheila Rule (20 October 1989). "Camilo Jose Cela Wins Nobel Prize; Spaniard Broke Taboos in the 40's". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Camilo José Cela – Facts nobelprize.org