Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo

Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo
b. 1910, El Ferrol
   Teacher, newspaper columnist, critic and novelist, Torrente came to maturity under the influence of Ortega y Gasset, Unamuno, R.Gómez de la Serna and Picasso at the height of literary and artistic experimentation in pre-Civil War Spain. Politically, he was a member of the regional party in Galicia in northwestern Spain, which favoured autonomy for his native region. In order to be able to return to Galicia—from a research fellowship in Paris in 1936—and to live safely with his wife and young children in this Francocontrolled region during and after the war, Torrente became a member of the Falange, though he left the organization in the early 1940s. Torrente's greatest conflict as a man and an artist has arguably been to form his own individual project of life and creation, when during so many of his best years ideological conformity in art and politics was the key to survival and success. The nature of humanity, the conflict between reason and emotion, roleplaying and demythification, and self-reflective creation are the major concerns of his work. In his 1957–62 trilogy Los gozos y las sombras (Joys and Sorrows; made into a thirteen-hour Spanish-French television production) it is significant that the main character and his girlfriend leave Spain for Portugal on the eve of the Civil War because they have neither the energy nor the conviction to take sides in the issues over which the war would be fought. In the subsequent 1963 novel Don Juan, the protagonist is characterized in general terms by his extreme human perfection and his refusal to be subordinate even to God, the only being whose supremacy to himself he recognizes. This Don Juan's eternal punishment is never to the, to be himself through eternity, and to have to convince succeeding generations that he is the true sixteenth-century figure. In these two novels Torrente, while expressing his own vital concerns, also shares with Ortega y Gasset a preoccupation with the twentieth-century tendency to make the individual subordinate to supposedly great causes and figures, and with the cost borne by the individual who refuses to be absorbed into the mass.
   Following the poor reception of those two novels, and the loss of a teaching and newspaper position for having signed a petition protesting against the censorship of news coverage in Spain, Torrente accepted in 1966 a distinguished professorship of Spanish at SUNY at Albany in the United States. The climate of intellectual sympathy towards structuralism he experienced there helped him to write La saga/fuga de J.B. (The Saga/Flight of J.B.), a humorous vision of the history of Galicia and, symbolically, its resistance to the centralizing forces of Franco's government. This novel made him a public figure in Spain, and won him the 1972 City of Barcelona and Critics Prizes. In conjunction with the two subsequent volumes of the fantastic trilogy, La saga/fuga gained him weekly columns in such newspapers as ABC, and paved the way for his election in 1977 to the Royal Academy of Language and the 1985 Cervantes Prize (see also Royal Academies).
   Among his novels of the 1980s and 1990s which deserve notice are Quizá nos lleve el viento al infinite (Perhaps the Wind Will Take Us to Infinity) and the winner of the 1988 Planeta Prize, Filomeno a mi pesar (Filomeno, Despite Myself). In the former novel Torrente carries out a postmodern experiment, using the conventions of both science fiction and detective fiction, against the backdrop of the Cold War, to explore what makes a human being human. With the 1989 novel Crónica del rey pasmado (Chronicle of the Astonished King), Torrente, aware of advancing age and not wishing to leave work unfinished, began to write short, rather schematic novels in which plot, bared almost completely of description and analysis, dominates. While Torrente has always maintained that his critical and creative activities were two sides of one literary coin, general recognition of his status as a critic only came after the fame of La saga/fuga and his first book-length publication following that novel, the critical study El "Quijote" como juego (Don Quixote as a Game).
   Major works
   - Torrente Ballester, G. (1943) Javier Mariño, Madrid: Editora National (first novel; best Spanish novel of the 1940s, according to some critics).
   —— (1957, 1960, 1962) Los gozos y las sombras, Madrid: Arión (this trilogy may be the author's most poetic rendering of the people, places and climate of Galicia).
   —— (1963) Don Juan, Barcelona: Destino; trans. B. Molloy, Don Juan, Madrid: Iberia, 1986 (novel).
   —— (1972) La saga/fuga de J.B., Barcelona: Destino (the author's most famous novel).
   —— (1977) Fragmentos de apocalipsis, Barcelona: Destino (a tour de force in metaliterary creation).
   —— (1979) Las sombras recobradas, Barcelona: Planeta (best collection of the author's short fiction).
   —— (1982) Teatro, 2 volsBarcelona: Destino (contains nearly all Torrente's dramatic works).
   —— (1982) Ensayos críticos, Barcelona: Destino (collection of theatrical and literary criticism).
   Further reading
   - Becerra, C. (1990) Guardo la voz, cedo la palabra: conversaciones con Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (I Yield the Floor: Conversations with Gonzalo Torrente Ballester), Barcelona: Anthropos (primary source for Torrente's views on the content, techniques and meanings of his creations).
   - Blackwell, F.H. (1985) The Game of Literature: Demythification and Parody in the Novels of Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Valencia: Albatrós Ediciones (stresses the ludic element in the author's novels).
   - Miller, S. (1982, 1983) "Don Juan's New Trick: Plot, Verisimilitude, Epistemology and Role-Playing in Torrente's Don Juan", Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, 16: 163–80 (this study was translated and placed as an appendix to the Círculo de Lectores edition of the author's choice as his best novel).
   - Pérez, J. (1984) Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Boston, MA: Twayne (best introduction to the author and his work to date).
   - Pérez, J. and Miller, S. (eds) (1989) Critical Studies on Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Boulder, CO: Society of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies (solid collection of essays by diverse hands on Torrente's work; includes an interview on Torrente's politico-literary dimension).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo — ▪ 2000       Spanish writer and literary critic (b. June 13, 1910, Serantes, near El Ferrol, Spain d. Jan. 27, 1999, Salamanca, Spain), was inducted into the Real Academia Española in 1977, was honoured in 1981 with Spain s National Prize for… …   Universalium

  • Torrente Ballester — Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo — ► (1910 99) Escritor español. Inició su carrera literaria con el drama El viaje del joven Tobías, 1938. Su obra fundamental es la trilogía Los gozos y las sombras (El señor llega, 1957; Donde da la vuelta el aire, 1960, y La Pascua triste, 1962) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Torrente Ballester — Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (* 13. Juni 1910 in Ferrol; † 27. Januar 1999 in Salamanca) war ein spanischer Schriftsteller. Leben Gonzalo Torrente Ballester wurde am 13. Juni 1910 in Ferrol in der Nähe von A Coruña, Spanien geboren. 1926 begann er… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gonzalo Torrente Ballester — (* 13. Juni 1910 in Ferrol; † 27. Januar 1999 in Salamanca) war ein spanischer Schriftsteller. Leben Gonzalo Torrente Ballester wurde am 13. Juni 1910 in Ferrol …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gonzalo Torrente Ballester — Para otros usos de este término, véase Torrente. Gonzalo Torrente Ballester Nacimiento 13 de junio …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gonzalo Torrente Ballester — (June 13, 1910 January 27, 1999) was a Galician writer in Spanish language. He was born in Serantes, Ferrol, Galicia, and received his first education there, subsequently attending the universities of Santiago de Compostela and Oviedo.Although… …   Wikipedia

  • Gonzalo Torrente Ballester — Buste érigé dans son village natal. Gonzalo Torrente Ballester est un auteur espagnol, né le 13 juin 1910 à Serantes, paroisse de Ferrol en Galice (Espagne), décédé le 27 janvier 1999 à Salamanque …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gonzalo Torrente Ballester — (13 de junio de 1910 27 de enero de 1999), profesor, novelista y autor de teatro. En 1975 fue elegido miembro de la Real Academia Española. Recibió el Premio Príncipe de Asturias en 1982 y el Cervantes en 1985. También fue premiado con el Premio… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Torrente Ballester —   [tɔ rrɛnte βaʎes tɛr], Gonzalo, spanischer Schriftsteller, * El Ferrol 13. 6. 1910, ✝ Salamanca 27. 1. 1999; Gymnasiallehrer; 1962 Bruch mit dem Franco Staat und Verlust seines Amtes; 1966 70 Gastprofessor in Albany (N. Y.); ab 1975 Mitglied… …   Universal-Lexikon

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