San Camilo, 1936

The Eve, Feast, and Octave of St. Camillus of the Year 1936 in Madrid

San Camilo, 1936

Book Pages: 327 Illustrations: Published: October 1991

Author: Camilo José Cela

Translator: John Polt

Literature and Literary Studies > Fiction

Widely regarded as one of the best works by the winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Literature, San Camilo, 1936 appears here for the first time in English translation. One of Spain’s most popular writers, Camilo José Cela is recognized for his experiments with language and with difficult subject matter. In San Camilo, 1936, first published in 1969, these concerns converge in a fascinating narrative that is as challenging as it is rewarding, as troubling as it is compelling.
A story of history as it happens, by turns confusing and startingly clear, echoing with news and rumors, defined by grand gestures and intimate pauses, the novel leads the reader into the ordinary life of extraordinary times. Beginning on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, San Camilo, 1936 follows a twenty-year-old student’s attempts to sort out his private affairs (sex, money, career) in the midst of the turmoil overtaking his country. In vivid and richly textured prose that distinguishes Cela’s work, the emotional reality of civil war takes on a vibrant immediacy that is humorous, tender, and ultimately transforming as a young man tries to come to terms with the historical moment he inhabits—and hopes to survive.
Readers new to Cela will find in this novel ample reason for the author’s growing reputation among audiences worldwide.


“Cela’s novel takes the reader through ten days of July 1936, in which Spain’s fragile parliamentary democracy was ripped apart by violent political radicalization. . . . Its larger historical framework, for example, emerges from the densely interwoven stories with a startling clarity, providing a kind of high-voltage reporting of those days in Madrid that puts one in mind of both the dispatches from the Spanish front in the 30s and of the new journalism of the 60s. . . . San Camilo, 1936 remains vibrant and eloquent.” — Frederick Luciani, New York Times Book Review

“Cela continues to anticipate and outlast his peers. Few contemporary writers can match his range, verbal richness, and purity of means. Few have given better evidence of dwelling in awfulness while caressing beauty. No other artist—except Picasso—has tapped such energies at the age when most gentlemen tend their gardens. Camilo José Cela approaches dusk with a steadfast gaze that only a few writers of genius can turn upon the face of chaos.” — Eduardo González, Nobel Prize Annual 1989


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Winner, American Literary Translators Association Outstanding Translation for 1991

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1196-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1179-9
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