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Reviewed by:
  • Retrato de Camilo José Cela
  • Jorge J. Muñoz Ogáyar
García Marquina, Francisco . Retrato de Camilo José Cela. Lafayette: Society of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies, 2005. 634 pp.

Retrato de Camilo José Cela gives the reader exactly what the title claims: one of the most interesting, complete and thought provoking portraits of Nobel prize winner Camilo José Cela. Francisco García Marquina offers a privileged and insightful look into the life and work of one of Spain's most laureate and controversial novelists. And he does so from the point of view of not only a close friend of Cela's, but also from someone who clearly understands the inherent contradictions that occur when the private and the personal overlap.

The book is divided into five sections. The first, "El gallego y su cuadrilla", offers a biographical sketch of Cela's life. Next, there is "Yo, señor, no soy malo", offering an examination of Cela's persona. Following, is "El retablo de don Cristobita", where the author focuses on Cela as a character. In the fourth section, "La vida en el tintero", García Marquina emphasizes Cela's genius as a writer. The final section, "La sima de las penúltimas inocencias", deals with Cela's death and his legacy. There is also a selection of photographs that nicely illustrates Cela's life.

This work is not only very informative, but it is also very entertaining. As a close friend and confident of Cela's, the author often narrates anecdotes and episodes in Cela's life that are amusing and add a touch of lightness to the somewhat controversial subject that is Cela himself. But the greatest achievement of this work lies in the way Mr. García Marquina has been able to present the novelist's many different faces.

Retrato de Camilo José Cela is an essential study on the life and work of Camilo José Cela, for those who approach the author and his writings for the first time, as well as for those already familiar with him. Francisco García Marquina has written an extremely well researched, engaging, intriguing and accessible book on one of Spain's most famous, and controversial, authors of the 20th century. [End Page 99]

Jorge J. Muñoz Ogáyar
Auburn University


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