Old Spain and New Spain: The Travel Narratives of Camilo José Cela
David Henn

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the career of 1989 Nobel laureate in literature Camilo José Cela (1916-2002) spanned 60 years. Henn concentrates on five of Cela’s travel books, looking at how they record vast changes in Spain. Published between 1948 (Viaje a la Alcarria; Eng. tr., Journey to the Alcarria, 1964) and 1986 (Nuevo viaje a la Alcarria), these books contain observations and musings on the people, places, history, and activities of the plains and mountains in central Spain, of western ad northern Spain from the Portuguese border to the French border, and of Andalusia. The travel works reveal the facts and evolution of Spain from post-Civil War ruin under the Franco dictatorship to a prosperous land ten years into democracy, integrated with Europe. One of Henn’s particular achievements is to show how Cela often fictionalized himself as “the traveler” or “the vagabond” – a tactic that gave him the distance, perspective, and license to bring to the discussion the broader truths allowed of fiction but denied to strictly factual, first-hand accounts. This was a particular advantage for a writer trying to capture the life of a country over many decades.

Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate and research collections.


--S. Miller, Texas A&M University

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Photograph courtesy of Louise Dell-Bene Stahl © 2001



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