Pemán y Pemartín, José María

Pemán y Pemartín, José María
b. 1898, Cadiz; d. 1981, Spain
   A former member of the right-wing monarchist group Acción Española in the 1930s, Pemán was a prolific writer whose reputation was initially based on his work as a propagandist for the Francoist insurgents during the Civil War, when he was appointed to head the wartime Committee of Culture and Education. One of his most representative works of this period is the Poema de la Bestia y el Angel (Poem of the Beast and the Angel) (1938), an allegorical representation of the characteristic Nationalist conception of the war as a struggle between good and evil. As part of the Franco regime's purge of cultural and intellectual life, he was made Acting President of the Royal Academy between 1939 and 1940, a post which he subsequently occupied in his own right by election in 1944–7 (see also Royal Academies). Like many intellectuals who had originally supported Franco, however, Pemán began in the 1950s to distance himself from the dictator, and gradually moved back towards a monarchist position, becoming an advisor to the Pretender, Don Juan de Borbón between 1957 and 1969. Though never considered by critical opinion to be a writer of genius, his presence on the literary scene could not be ignored because of the sheer volume of his output. By the time of his death, his complete works filled some seven volumes. He wrote more than sixty plays, covering the genres of historical drama in verse, thesis drama, farce and commentaries on contemporary mores. His translations and adaptions of classical plays such as Oedipus Rex were performed in the Roman Theatre in Mérida, and he also scored a notable success with his television series El Séneca. His articles in ABC in defence of the Catalan language won him a prize awarded by the Madrid Catalan Circle in 1971, and in 1981 he was awarded the Order of the Golden Fleece by King Juan Carlos I. As well as plays, he wrote poetry, novels, essays and memoirs, including Mis encuentros con Franco (My Encounters with Franco) (1976), containing many shrewd and witty observations on the dictator and his associates.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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