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Javier Marías
Javier Marías (Feria del Libro de Madrid, 31 de mayo de 2008).jpg
Born (1951-09-20) 20 September 1951 (age 70)
Madrid, Spain
  • Novelist
  • translator
  • columnist
Notable worksAll Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow In The Battle Think On Me, Your Face Tomorrow
Javier Marías (Madrid, Spain, 20 September 1951 - 11 September 2022) was a Spanish novelist, translator, and columnist. Marías has published fifteen novels, including A Heart So White (Corazón tan blanco, 1992) and Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí, 1994). In addition to his novels, he has published three collections of short stories and various essays. As one of Spain's most celebrated novelists, his work has been translated into forty-four languages and has sold over eight and a half million copies internationally. He has received several awards for his work, such as the Rómulo Gallegos Prize (1994), the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (1997), the International Nonino Prize (2011), and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2011).
Marías studied philosophy and literature at the Complutense University of Madrid before going on to teach at several universities, including his alma mater, universities in Oxford and Venice, and Wellesley College in Massachusetts. In 1997, he was awarded the title of King of the Kingdom of Redonda by its predecessor Jon Wynne-Tyson for his understanding of the kingdom and for mentioning the story of one of its previous kings, John Gawsworth, in his novel All Souls (Todas las almas, 1989).
1 Life
1.1 Writing
1.2 Redonda
2 Awards and honours
3 Bibliography
3.1 Novels
3.2 Novellas and short stories
3.3 Anthologies
4 Further reading
5 References
6 External links
Javier Marías was born in Madrid. His father was the philosopher Julián Marías, who was briefly imprisoned and then banned from teaching for opposing Franco (the father of the protagonist of Your Face Tomorrow was given a similar biography). Marías is the fourth of five sons and spent parts of his childhood in the United States, where his father taught at various institutions, including Yale University and Wellesley College. His mother died when Javier was 26 years old. His first literary employment consisted in translating Dracula scripts for his maternal uncle, Jesús Franco. He was educated at the Colegio Estudio in Madrid.
Marías began writing in earnest at an early age. "The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga", one of the short stories in While the Women are Sleeping (2010), was written when he was just 14. He wrote his first novel, Los dominios del lobo (The Dominions of the Wolf), at the age of 17, after running away to Paris. His second novel, Travesía del horizonte (Voyage Along the Horizon), was an adventure story about an expedition to Antarctica.
After attending the Complutense University of Madrid, Marías turned his attention to translating English novels into Spanish. His translations included work by Updike, Hardy, Conrad, Nabokov, Faulkner, Kipling, James, Stevenson, Browne, and Shakespeare. In 1979 he won the Spanish national award for translation for his version of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Between 1983 and 1985 he lectured in Spanish literature and translation at the University of Oxford.
In 1986 Marías published El hombre sentimental (The Man of Feeling), and in 1988 he published Todas las almas (All Souls), which was set at Oxford University. The Spanish film director Gracia Querejeta released El Último viaje de Robert Rylands, adapted from Todas las almas, in 1996.
His 1992 novel Corazón tan blanco was a commercial and critical success and for its English version A Heart So White, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, Marías and Costa were joint winners of the 1997 International Dublin Literary Award. His 1994 novel, Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí, whose protagonist is a ghostwriter, won the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos Prize.
The protagonists of the novels written since 1986 are all interpreters or translators of one kind or another, based on his own experience as a translator and teacher of translation at Oxford University. Of these protagonists, Marías has written, "They are people who are renouncing their own voices."
In 2002 Marías published Tu rostro mañana 1. Fiebre y lanza (Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear), the first part of a trilogy that is his most ambitious literary project. The first volume is dominated by a translator, an elderly don based on an actual professor emeritus of Spanish studies at Oxford University, Sir Peter Russell. The second volume, Tu rostro mañana 2. Baile y sueño (Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream), was published in 2004. In 2007, Marías completed the final installment, Tu rostro mañana 3. Veneno y sombra y adiós (Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell).
Marías operates a small publishing house under the name of Reino de Redonda. He also writes a weekly column in El País. In 2005-06 an English version of his column, "La Zona Fantasma", appeared in the monthly magazine The Believer.
Marías was elected to Seat R of the Real Academia Española on 29 June 2006. He took up his seat on 27 April 2008. At his investiture he agreed with Robert Louis Stevenson that the work of novelists is "pretty childish," but also argued that it is impossible to narrate real events, and that “you can only fully tell stories about what has never happened, the invented and imagined.”
In 2013, Marías was awarded the prestigious Prix Formentor.
Marías's novel, Todas las almas (All Souls), included a portrayal of the poet John Gawsworth, who was also the third King of Redonda. Although the fate of this monarchy after the death of Gawsworth is contested, the portrayal by Marías so affected the "reigning" king, Jon Wynne-Tyson, that he abdicated and left the throne to Marías in 1997. This course of events was chronicled in his "false novel," Negra espalda del tiempo (Dark Back of Time). The book was inspired by the reception of Todas las almas by many people who, falsely according to Marías, believed they were the source of the characters in Todas las almas. Since "taking the throne" of Redonda, Marías has begun a publishing imprint named Reino de Redonda ("Kingdom of Redonda").
Marías has conferred many titles during his reign upon people he likes, including upon Pedro Almodóvar (Duke of Trémula), António Lobo Antunes (Duke of Cocodrilos), John Ashbery (Duke of Convexo), Pierre Bourdieu (Duke of Desarraigo), William Boyd (Duke of Brazzaville), Michel Braudeau (Duke of Miranda), A. S. Byatt (Duchess of Morpho Eugenia), Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Duke of Tigres), Pietro Citati (Duke of Remonstranza), Francis Ford Coppola (Duke of Megalópolis), Agustín Díaz Yanes (Duke of Michelín), Roger Dobson (Duke of Bridaespuela), Frank Gehry (Duke of Nervión), Francis Haskell (Duke of Sommariva), Eduardo Mendoza (Duke of Isla Larga), Ian Michael (Duke of Bernal), Orhan Pamuk (Duke of Colores), Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Duke of Corso), Francisco Rico (Duke of Parezzo), Sir Peter Russell (Duke of Plazatoro), Fernando Savater (Duke of Caronte), W. G. Sebald (Duke of Vértigo), Jonathan Coe (Duke of Prunes), Luis Antonio de Villena (Duke of Malmundo), and Juan Villoro (Duke of Nochevieja).
In addition, Marías created a literary prize, to be judged by the dukes and duchesses. In addition to prize money, the winner receives a duchy.
Winners: 2001 – John Maxwell Coetzee (Duke of Deshonra); 2002 – John H. Elliott (Duke of Simancas); 2003 – Claudio Magris (Duke of Segunda Mano); 2004 – Eric Rohmer (Duke of Olalla); 2005 – Alice Munro (Duchess of Ontario); 2006 – Ray Bradbury (Duke of Diente de León); 2007 – George Steiner (Duke of Girona); 2008 – Umberto Eco (Duke of la Isla del Día de Antes); 2009 – Marc Fumaroli (Duke of Houyhnhnms).
Awards and honours
1995: Fastenrath Award (Real Academia Española) for Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí
1997: International Dublin Literary Award for A Heart So White
2011: International Nonino Prize in Italy
2011: Austrian State Prize for European Literature
2013: Prix Formentor.
2013: National Book Critics Circle Award (fiction) shortlist for The Infatuations
2021: Elected a Royal Society of Literature International Writer
All English translations by Margaret Jull Costa unless otherwise indicated.
Los dominios del lobo (1971)
Travesía del horizonte (1973). Voyage Along the Horizon, translated by Kristina Cordero (McSweeney's, 2006)
El monarca del tiempo (1978)
El siglo (1983)
El hombre sentimental (1986). The Man of Feeling (US: New Directions/UK: The Harvill Press, 2003)
Todas las almas (1989). All Souls (The Harvill Press, 1992; New Directions, 2000)
Corazón tan blanco (1992). A Heart So White (The Harvill Press, 1995; New Directions, 2002)
Vidas escritas (1992). Written Lives (US: New Directions/UK: Canongate, 2006). Literary biography.
Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí (1994). Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (The Harvill Press, 1996; New Directions, 2001)
Negra espalda del tiempo (1998). Dark Back of Time, translated by Esther Allen (New Directions, 2001; Chatto & Windus, 2003)
Tu rostro mañana 1. Fiebre y lanza (2002). Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear (US: New Directions/UK: Chatto & Windus, 2005)
Tu rostro mañana 2. Baile y sueño (2004). Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream (US: New Directions/UK: Chatto & Windus, 2006)
Tu rostro mañana 3. Veneno y sombra y adiós (2007). Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell (US: New Directions/UK: Chatto & Windus, 2009)
Los enamoramientos (2011). The Infatuations (US: Knopf/UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2013)
Así empieza lo malo (2014). Thus Bad Begins (US: Knopf/UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2016)
Berta Isla (2017). Berta Isla (US: Knopf/UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2018)
Tomás Nevinson (2021)
Novellas and short stories
Mientras ellas duermen (1990). While the Women Are Sleeping (US: New Directions/UK: Chatto & Windus, 2010)
Cuando fui mortal (1996). When I Was Mortal (The Harvill Press, 1999; New Directions, 2000)
Mala índole (1996). Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico, translated by Esther Allen (New Directions, 2010)
Between Eternities & Other Writings (US: Penguin/UK: Hamish Hamilton, 2017). Later compiled in Spanish as Entre Eternidades. Y otros escritos (2018)
Further reading
Berg, Karen, Javier Marías's Postmodern Praxis: Humor and Interplay between Reality and Fiction in his Novels and Essays (2008)
Cunado, Isabel, El Espectro de la Herencia: La Narrativa de Javier Marías (2004)
Miles, Valerie (2014). A Thousand Forests in One Acorn. Rochester: Open Letter. pp. 585–616. ISBN 978-1-934824-91-7.
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