Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (Rome, 1927) is a Spanish writer with a short and somewhat “strange” list of works if it comes to novels. The Wikipedia (in English) has got this article.
His first novel was Industrias y andanzas de Alfanhuí [translated into English as: The adventures of the ingenious Alfanhui] (1951)
Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio invented a child and walked with him on the paths of his new old country and wrote the most beautiful book of his time. A story full of true lies.
«Alfanhui wouldn’t have been able to say if in his eyes there was a gloomy solitude and in his ears a fathomless silence, because this music and these colours came from the other part, from where the knowledge of things never comes; transposed the first day, behind the last wall of memory, where the other memory begins: the huge memory of the unknown things.»
According to the Wikipedia it’s “the first Spanish story of magic realism”.
El Jarama [translated as: The River] (1955), Sánchez Ferlosio’s second novel, is considered his main work.
Nadal prize 1955
El Jarama starts a new epoch in Spanish narrative incorporating into a story of realistic appearance an absolutely realistic technique. Eleven friends from Madrid decide to spend a hot August Sunday on the shore of the Jarama [river]. From this point onwards the plot develops simultaneously in Mauricio’s tavern -where the regulars drink, discuss and play cards- and in a grove on the river shore where the excursionists settle down. During 16 hours there is a succession of baths, stinging from the sun, paellas, the first erotic dabblings, and the resentment in front of the time that is fleeting making imminent the threat of Monday. At the day’s end an unexpected event fills up the day with deep poetry and endows the novel with a strange greatness.
The Wikipedia (in Spanish) summarizes the plot as follows:
It tells the story of a group of eleven young people from Madrid who spend the day in the countryside on a hot summer Sunday. The action takes place near the Viveros bridge, on the Jarama river, where the protagonists go to take a bath and escape from the tedium of the city. On another level of the novel there develops the confrontation of two counterposed worlds, the urban working class and the rural one. As to the narrative there has been highlighted the author’s capacity to show the action in different places simultaneously, Viveros bridge and Mauricio’s tavern, as in a movie script. The narrative plot, as simple as in many examples of neorealism, breaks down at the novel’s end with the narration of a tragic event, which serves the author to strengthen his thesis on the opposition between human life’s fleetingness and the unchangeable nature of the river.
Afterwards came a long period of silence, i.e. without any publications, interpreted as a form of protest against the Franco regime, and after the dictator’s death an intense activity as an essay writer and columnist.
Altos estudios eclesiásticos (Ensayos 1) [Advanced ecclesiastic studies, Essays 1], 2015, 800 p.
In 1955, after writing El Jarama, Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio retired from circulation to immerse himself during 15 years in grammar, what he called «advanced ecclesiastic studies». This epoch of solitary studies derived into abundant writing that came to light intermittently during many years, but probably resumes better than any other the fundamental concerns of Ferlosian reflection.
This volumen, the first of four that will make up the “Collected Essays”, gathers the writings that are most directly linked to these years of dedication to grammar: Las semanas del jardín [The garden’s weeks], «Guapo» y sus isótopos [“Handsome” and its isotopes], the Glosas castellanas [Castilian comments] and the translation and notes of Victor de l’Aveyron by Jean Itard, that are recovered after more than twenty years, among others.
«First I incurred in “prose”, i.e. la bella página [the beautiful page] (Alfanhuí); afterwards I wanted to have fun with speech (El Jarama), and finally, after many years of grammar, I found language (represented not so much in my last novel but particularly in the non-literary writings).» Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio in La forja de un plumífero [A hack’s forge]
This blogger hasn’t read any of Sánchez Ferlosio’s works so far, and he will probably start with his writings published on the newspaper El País‘ website.