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Censorship Files, The

Latin American Writers and Franco's Spain

Alejandro Herrero-Olaizola

Publication Year: 2007

Drawing on extensive research in the Spanish National Archive, Alejandro Herrero-Olaizola examines the role played by the censorship apparatus of Franco’s Spain in bringing about the Latin American literary Boom of the 1960s and 1970s. He reveals the negotiations and behind-the-scenes maneuvering among those involved in the Spanish publishing industry. Converging interests made strange bedfellows of the often left-wing authors and the staid officials appointed to stand guard over Francoist morality and to defend the supposed purity of Castilian Spanish. Between these two uneasily allied groups circulated larger-than-life real-world characters like the Barcelona publisher Carlos Barral and the all-powerful literary agent Carmen Balcells. The author details the fascinating story of how novels by Mario Vargas Llosa, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Gabriel García Márquez, and Manuel Puig achieved publication in Spain, and in doing so reached a worldwide market. This colorful account underpins a compelling claim that even the most innovative and aesthetically challenging literature has its roots in the economics of the book trade, as well as the institutions of government and the exigencies of everyday politics and ideology.

Published by: State University of New York Press

The Censorship Files

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pp. iii-

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-

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Preface: The Censorship Files

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pp. xi-xxvii

I am no stranger to censorship, since for years I was a censor myself. This confession is not out of place, I hope, in a book dealing with the Spanish-language publishing industry and the promotion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and 1970s. I would like to use my personal experience to frame a discussion of official censorship during the last phase of the dictatorial regime of Francisco Franco (1960–1975),...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxix-xxx

I am indebted to the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Program and to the American Council of Learned Societies’ Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship Program for supporting my work. These fellowships allowed me to devote all my attention to this book. My gratitude also extends to the University of Grant, which provided me with travel funds for my first exploration of...

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1. Publishing Matters: The Boom and Its Players

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pp. 1-9

Shortly after the approval of the printing and publishing law of 1966, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Spain’s Minister of Information and Tourism, reportedly commented: “He dado orden de que los lápices rojos los dejen en el fondo del cajón” [“I have ordered that the red pencils be stored at the bottom of the drawer”] (Cisquella 19).1 Fraga’s pronouncement echoed not only the letter of the law—articles 1 and 50...

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1. THE NEW RULES OF CENSORSHIP

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pp. 9-12

The new printing and publishing law is a perfect example of the government’s reformist attitude in the 1960s. The law removed the consulta obligatoria [compulsory submission] imposed on all printed works in Spain up to 1966, which often required publishers to delete...

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2. THE NEW SEIX BARRAL

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pp. 13-22

Seix Barral offered a more congenial contribution to the wheat and chaff debate in its 1969 Catálogo General de Publicaciones. This unusual two hundred page catalogue contained a detailed account of Seix Barral’s collections and current publishing policies, together with a section on projects for future expansion. If the Catálogo reflected the...

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3. BITCHING ABOUT THE BOOM

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pp. 22-36

The Boom and its riches appeared to be in trouble as early as 1970. At that time the gathering crisis at Seix Barral finally came to a head: Víctor Seix’s death in 1967 and the ensuing family feuds, Barral’s political activism (in particular, the regime saw his meetings with the Formentor group as part of the Communist propaganda machine), and...

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2. The Writer in the Barracks: Mario Vargas Llosa Facing Censorship

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pp. 37-45

A 1973 photograph of Mario Vargas Llosa’s book signing at Barcelona’s El Corte Inglés, Spain’s largest chain of department stores, can serve to epitomize his literary career in Spain under the Franco regime. In the photograph, the writer sits pensively at a desk next to a sign showing the triangular emblem of El Corte Inglés and announcing that “Mario Vargas Llosa will sign copies of his latest...

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1. FACING THE CENSORS, FACING THE MARKET

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pp. 45-58

There is no better example of Vargas Llosa’s and Barral’s opportunist oppositionality toward the Spanish censorship authorities than what took place during the approval process of La ciudad y los perros. The novel, Vargas Llosa’s and Barral’s first international best seller, was submitted to the censors in February 1963, and after arduous negotiations, was...

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2. THE MARKETING OF MILITARY LITERATURE

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pp. 58-70

Ten years after the international release of La ciudad y los perros, Pantaleón y las visitadoras appeared on the Spanish book market and became yet another of Vargas Llosa’s literary successes. Barral, and the censors for that matter, seemed fully aware that the novel’s depiction of the military would make it an instant international best seller. Many...

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3. Cuban Nights Falling: The Revolutionary Silences of Guillermo Cabrera Infante

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pp. 71-79

The publication history of Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s masterwork Tres tristes tigres (1967) [Three Trapped Tigers] is, without a doubt, the most compelling case of productive censorship experienced by any Boom writer in Franco’s Spain. Unlike many of his fellow Latin American writers, Cabrera Infante had tasted first hand the censorship of authoritarian regimes before coming to Spain, having had to deal...

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1. THE CUBAN CONNECTION: SPAIN AND THE “INFANTES OF THE REVOLUTION”

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pp. 79-89

Early in this story, Guillermo Cabrera Infante and his brother, the filmmaker Sab

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2. “SILENCING” THE CUBAN REVOLUTION: FROM “VISTADEL AMANECER EN EL TRÓPICO” TO TRES TRISTES TIGRES

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pp. 89-103

When Seix Barral presented “Vista” to the Spanish censors in March 1965, the publisher could not predict that the approval process would be one of the most litigious and complex of all the Boom novels published in Franco’s Spain. After all, the firm had managed to get...

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3. CENSORSHIP REMAINS: A REVOLUTIONARY’S CAREER

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pp. 103-108

Despite the successful publication of Tres tristes tigres in 1967 and Vista del amanecer en el tr

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4. From Melqu

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pp. 109-117

On September 21, 2001, Barcelona’s Casa Batlló on Passeig de Grácia, one of the most emblematic buildings of Catalan modernisme, became the setting for the auction of a unique manuscript: the author-corrected galley proofs of Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad (1967) [One Hundred Years of Solitude]. The auction house, Subastas Velázquez, justified its choice of location by...

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1. WISE AND UNWISE CATALANS

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pp. 117-125

Subastas Velázquez failed to mention in their catalogue one of the most obvious connections between Cien años de soledad and Barcelona, the wise Catalonian—“el hombre que había leído todos los libros” [“a man who had read all the books”]...

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2. GARCIA MÁRQUEZ AND HIS “FAMILIAR” CENSORS

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pp. 125-135

One of the most significant features of García Márquez’s literary career (and one of the least studied) is his familiarity with censorship and the masterly skills with which he circumvented it. Early in his career and during the years of La Violencia that followed the social unrest...

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3. A CITIZEN CENSOR

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pp. 135-140

Vernet Mateu’s letter is a perfect example of the Francoist government’s recruitment of its citizens to perform censorial duties on their own behalf. Indeed, it was one of the underlying principles of the new censorship regulations that came into effect during the apertura to...

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5. Betrayed by Censorship: Manuel Puig Declassified

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pp. 141-146

The censor who evaluated Manuel Puig’s first novel La traición de Rita Hayworth [Betrayed by Rita Hayworth] in June 1966 began his confidential report with the following statement: “La lectura de estanovela da la impresión de una leonera llena de cosas heterogéneas einútiles, todas amontonadas sin orden ni concierto. No tiene casi argumento” [“Reading this novel gives the impression of a lion’s den where...

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1. BETRAYED BY THE MARKETPLACE

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pp. 146-154

The publication history of La traici

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2. BETRAYED BY AUNT CLARA

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pp. 155-165

The frivolity and glamour that the earliest readers of Puig’s La traición thought trivial and offensive was an effect of a desire, on their part, for orden y concierto. They sought to impose a fixed linear structure on the novel, in defiance of the “queer aesthetics” to which they were sufficiently sensitive to be disturbed by. La traición was read censoriously...

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3. “PLAYING ‘TORO’”: BETRAYED BY MS. HAYWORTH

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pp. 165-172

Puig bore a grudge against Carlos Barral, apparently for the rest of his life, over the latter’s tepid support of La traición in 1966 and his editorial modifications to the text. On the occasion of their last encounter at a book fair in Caracas in 1980 Puig’s comment about the publisher was: “She’s such an evil woman that she’s gotten old” (Levine 184)....

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Epilogue- Legends of the Boom: Latin American Publishing Revisited

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pp. 173-184

Carmen Balcells, who had been an almost mythic figure of the Boom and its most visible literary agent, took center stage again in 2000. Critics and journalists revisited her role in the promotion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and 1970s, and the “Balcells legend” (la leyenda Balcells) became the stock phrase that summed up her distinguished career and the crucial role she played in the...

Notes

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pp. 185-201

Works Cited

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pp. 203-220

Index

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pp. 221-233


E-ISBN-13: 9780791480540
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791469859
Print-ISBN-10: 0791469859

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 9 b/w photographs, 4 figures
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Series Editor Byline: Jorge J. E. Gracia

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Franco, Francisco, 1892-1975.
  • Censorship -- Spain -- History -- 20th century.
  • Spanish American fiction -- 20th century -- Publishing -- Spain.
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