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camera 19 001Is it not time to take a good look at some Spanish authors and literature?

In Spain, there is the so called Planeta (Premio Planeta) Award for Spanish Literature instituted in 1952 by the publishing house Editorial Planeta.  There is exactly where the coincidence starts. For a list of authors since the inception of the prize, we should have a look at the page below.

img539In 1954, the Planeta Prize was awarded to author Anna Maria Matute (1925-2014) of which for the longest time the third book School of the Sun in the above picture sat unread on one of the shelves. At the time when I bought the book, I was fascinated with the Spanish Civil War theme (still am) and the dust jacket of the book, and so the story goes. It sat unread waiting for these ripe moments of curiosity mixed with introspective ideas about history long past. The more you know about history the more you realize there is no such thing as linearity to it, no matter what you are told about cause and effect. What is there? Is it the very unpredictable phenomenon we call the human mind?

The impetus behind this post was however another book. The one below in Spanish by Ramon J. Sender who won the Planeta Prize in 1969 for the title En la Vida de Ignacio Morel with a superb dust jacket.

A good biography about the author in the English language can be found here. Ramon J. Sender (1901-1982), was an exiled author first to France and then Mexico. He was also at the time a pro communist combatant during the Spanish Civil War, as well as, a journalist and poet who wrote over a 100 books on a variety of subjects: Essays, novels, plays and a number of short stories. His life and vision was influenced by personal tragedies.

img534Curiously, the book also had the original paper band indicating it had won the coveted prize which was endowed with over a million peseta (ptas) in 1969, and indicating that this book was printed in a first edition of 55,000 copies.

img537I was struck by the well executed binding and the overall graphic design and the dust jacket design by the artist Riera Rojas. This artist was unknown to me, and it was not until I discovered a blog called Graphic Pioneers, Spanish Graphic Design 1939-1975 written and designed by Emilio Gil that I found out more about Riera Rojas. The book has pasted end papers in red that have a similar interesting design in both front and back.The meaning if there is one, to the design, elopes me, unless it is a veiled reference to socialism.

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Inside left dust jacket flap

Sender’s work like that of so many other exiled Spanish writers was banned in Spain from about 1939 until the early sixties, more on other exiled authors can be found in the book Literary Exile in the 20th Century, Greenwood Press, 1991. In the 1980’s some of his works were made into movies.

Back to Ana Maria Matute’s first book translated into English titled School of the Sun. which was awarded the Premio Nadal 1959.

img992img990img991In 2010 her lifelong work was crowned with the prestigious Miguel de Cervantes Prize. Only the third female author to have been awarded this special honor.

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