Juan Arbó, Sebastián

Juan Arbó, Sebastián
b. 1902, Sant Carles de la Ràpita (Tarragona); d. 1984, Barcelona
   Exemplifying the dilemma of bilinguals pressurized into using only Spanish by the Franco regime, Arbó wrote several novels in Catalan before 1936, published another simultaneously in both his languages in the 1940s and concentrated on Spanish from 1948 to the mid-1960s, before reverting to his mother tongue. Educated largely through reading books borrowed from the family for which his parents worked as servants, Arbó"s early writings describe the hardships of life on the land near the mouth of the river Ebro, where he was born. Terres de l'Ebre (Lands of the Ebro) (1932), the dramatic story of an obsessive worker whose wife is drowned, whose son abandons him to migrate to the city and who, on being evicted from his land, reacts so insanely that he is locked up and hangs himself, is typical of this first period, showing the misery of humans in conflict with a desolate, hostile environment, where loneliness, hunger and tragedy are daily realities.
   Published in two languages, Tino Costa (Tino Costa) (1948), a harsh tale of passionate love, similarly ends in violence when the protagonist kills an innocent girl and is stoned to death by the villagers, after which his mother goes insane and his lover kills herself. Sobre las piedras grises (On the Grey Stones) (1948), winner of the Nadal Prize, initiates the author's Spanish phase. Less violent but no less pessimistic than his previous fiction, it depicts a simple civil servant who is cheated out of a small inheritance, humiliated at work and then unfairly dismissed. The only positive events in his sad life are his wedding to an admirable girl, attracted by his extreme innocence, and his daughter's marriage to a reformed anarchist whom her parents had saved and harboured when he was on the run from the police. The novel received little critical acclaim, mainly because of its lack of verisimilitude and the protagonist's unrealistic naïvety. Considered, on the contrary, to be his finest work, Nuevas y viejas andanzas de Martín de Caretas (New and Old Adventures of Martin from Caretas) (1959) is a charming picaresque tale of an innocently mischievous child's early life and journey from his native village to Barcelona, describing various adventures along the way to the big city. With Narracions del Delta (Stories from the Delta) (1965) and other late writings, the author returns to Catalan and to themes of his childhood. Apart from his fiction and countless contributions to prestigious newspapers, Arbó is known as the biographer of Cervantes, Pío Baroja, Oscar Wilde and the nineteenth-century tragic priest Jacint Verdaguer, only the last of whom is directly reflected in his own writings.
   Further reading
   - Alborg, J.L. (1962) Hora actual de la novela española, Madrid: Taurus, vol. 2, pp. 269–88 (a critical survey of Arbó"s work up to 1959).
   - Arnau, C. (1984) "Prologue" to Terres de l'Ebre, Barcelona: Edicions 62 (a Catalan overview of Arbó"s work).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Sebastià Juan Arbó — Sebastià Juan Arbó, (* 28. Oktober 1900 in Sant Carles de la Ràpita (Montsià, Spanien); † 2. Januar 1984 in Barcelona) war ein katalanischer Romanautor und Dramaturg. Er schrieb seine Werke in katalanischer und spanischer Sprache. Er gewann 1948… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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