Francisco Ayala was one of the best Spanish writers in the 20th century. He was a Spanish author with an incredible literary genius.
Francisco Ayala, a Spanish writer of the generation of '27, is known as one of the most important Hispanic literary figures in the world. Ayala was born on 16th of March 1906, during the first years of Bourbon King Alfonso XIII reign as an adult in Spain, to a wealthy family in Granada. His father, Francisco Ayala Arroyo, was a promising young lawyer and his mother, María de la Luz García-Duarte González, was the youngest daughter of Eduardo Garcia Duarte, the Dean of the University of Granada.
In the 1922, at the tender age of 16, Francisco Ayala moved with his family to Madrid where he would finish high school and later enroll in the University of Madrid to study Law and Humanities. The Spanish author's first publication, an article about the painter Romero de Torres, was in 1923 marking the beginning of his brilliant literary career.
Within two years of his first article, young Francisco Ayala published his first two novels. In 1927 he finished his law degree at the University of Madrid and began to collaborate regularly with La Gaceta Literaria and La Revista de Occidente. Ayala frequently attended the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset's gatherings and in 1928, along with 26 other intellectuals and writers such as Federico García Lorca, signed a public letter requesting that Ortega y Gasset serve as their leader in the task of restoring Spanish politics to decency after all it had lost under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.
In 1929 the Spanish writer was granted a scholarship to further his studies in Germany where he would meet his future wife, Etelvina Silva. They would marry in 1931 and produce Anaya's only child in 1934, Nina. Upon returning to Madrid in 1930, Anaya obtained his PhD in law in 1931. By 1932 Francisco had won a professorship position at the University of Madrid where he would teach until 1936.
Francisco Ayala was on a lecture tour in South America when the Spanish Civil War broke out. He returned immediately to Spain to serve the Republican Government where he worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The same year, both his father and brother were executed by Franco's nationalist forces. When the Republicans lost the war on the 6th of February 1939, Francisco Ayala and his family were forced to flee Spain.
The Spanish author settled down in Buenos Aires where he would spend ten years of his life during which time he would come into contact with great Argentinean writers and intellectuals such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar and Adolfo Bioy Casares. In Argentina he dedicated himself to teaching sociology at Litoral University and translating various works. Francisco Ayala continued writing and contributed to the magazine Sur, where he published the article Diálogo de los muertos in 1939. Ayala also wrote for the newspaper La Nación and cofounded a magazine called Realidad.
Under General Perón's regime, Argentina suffered repression which ultimately led to the Spanish writer´s decision to move to Puerto Rico in 1950. He taught law in the University of Puerto Rico and later, in 1957, relocated to the USA where he taught Spanish Literature in various prestigious Universities until his retirement in 1976. During this time he would travel frequently to Spain and also meet his second wife, Carolyn Richmond.
When the Franco's dictatorship in Spain finally collapsed, the Spanish author returned to Madrid and worked as a writer, lecturer and journalist contributing frequently to Spanish newspapers such as El País and Informaciones. Francisco Ayala, a prolific novel and essay writer who reflected Spain's past, present, cinema, and literature in his work, continued to write well into his old age. He passed away at the age of 103 in Madrid on November 3, 2009.
Francisco Ayala Works
Critics usually divide Ayala's work into two stages: before and after the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish writer´s earlier works followed a more traditional narrative line and showed an avant-garde prose.
- Tragicomedia de un Hombre sin Espíritu - 1925 (Tragicomedy of a Spiritless Man)
- Historia de un Amanecer - 1926 (A Sunrise Tale)
- El boxeador y un ángel - 1929 (The boxer and an Angel)
- Cazador en el alba - 1930 (Hunter at Dawn)
After many years of silence, the second stage of Francisco Ayala's writing career began while in exile. It was this stage of his life where the Spanish author would produce his most celebrated narratives about the Civil War, dictatorships and human behavior in relation to outside developments.
- El hechizado (The Bewitched) - 1944
- Los usurpadores (The Unsurpers) - 1949
- La cabeza del cordero (The Lamb Head) - 1949
- Historia de macacos (History of Macaques) - 1955
- Muertes de perro (Dog Deaths) - 1958
- El fondo del vaso (The Bottom of the Glass) - 1962
After these works he started publishing short tales: El rapto (The Kidnap) in 1965 and El jardín de las delicias (The Garden of Earthly Delights) in 1971, to name a few. Later, he produced various volumes of memoirs called Recuerdos y olvidos (Reminiscences and Overlooks) in 1982, 1983, 1988 and 2006.
Francisco Ayala's Awards and Recognitions
Francisco Ayala was honored in Spain with various distinctions and recognitions including:
- Premio de la Crítica (Critics Choice Award) - 1972
- Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) - 1983
- Premio Nacional de Narrativa (Narrative National Prize) - 1983
- Premio Nacional de las Letras Españolas y andaluzas (National Prize of Spanish and Andalusian Literature) - 1988 and 1990
- Miguel de Cervantes Prize - 1991
- Prince of Asturias Award in Literature - 1998
In November of 2003 he was proclaimed Honorary Fellow of the association Granada Histórica. He was quoted saying: "maybe, [it was] one of the most beautiful moments in the last stage of my life because, after nearly a century of feeling a granadino across the world, now I feel recognized by the granadinos themselves".