The final years of Carmen Laforet, “that simple grandmother without pearls, without makeup and with gray hair” | EUROtoday

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Israel Rolón-Barada data a Carmen Laforet in 1987, when he had simply begun finding out the graduate program in Literature at Georgetown University in Washington. “The professors had made attendance at the conference mandatory, which was on a Friday afternoon, and I arrived expecting to see someone in line with the image that Spain projected, a person like Rocío Jurado. So, it always stuck with me. stuck in my head the feeling I had when I entered the Inter Cultural Center where the conference took place and saw that lady without jewelry, without pearls, without makeup, with gray hair, so simple and humblebut with a charisma and a breath of mystery around her that turned her into an enigma.”

The assembly with that “grandmother, who at the end of the conference approached the audience and told us, “look, I as soon as wrote a ebook and was well-known, and right here I’m”, fascinated Rolón. When he finished the Master's degree, two years later “I may solely take into consideration Carmen Laforet and all her work,” explains this Puerto Rican who currently teaches Spanish at the School of International Relations (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

What followed was the story of a platonic infatuation that a decade and a half later led Rolón-Barada to find the manuscript of Nada, which was owned by the bookseller Carmelo Blázquez, and to meet Laforet herself during the last three years of her life. , when the writer, prey to a degenerative disease who had deprived her of the ability to speak, lived in a residence in Majadahonda. Rolón insists that, although the author of Anything She was in physical decline – when he met her she had just broken her hip – she had not lost touch with reality at all. She “was in her personal world but in addition current.” Until the end of her days, she really liked having literature read to her. Normally, his nurse, Marta Horcajo, was in charge of it, and also his youngest daughter, the writer Cristina Cerezales. The Johns Hopkins professor remembers that “her kids visited her always, and Cristina, who felt true adoration for her, every single day.”

Laforet communicated mainly with monosyllables and also with hand gestures. Depending on how he moved his arms, it could mean “go forward” or “I don't wish to know any extra about that.” Rolón-Barada remembers that, when he found the correspondence between the writer and Ramon J. Sender in Huesca, “Destino requested her on a couple of event via her kids if she approved the publication of these letters and he or she permitted, after which made a gesture along with her hand, as if to say 'and all the pieces else, too.'” “Only on one event, in direction of the top, did I see her making an attempt to inform me one thing however she couldn't discover the phrases,” recalls Rolón-Barada, who visited Laforet every other month for three years, and made her last visit a week before her death. her.

Rolón co-wrote with the professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Barcelona Anna Caballe -who directed his thesis on Laforet's epistolary correspondence- his biography Carmen Laforet. A woman on the run, in which it deals with a detailed biographical sketch of an author who, due to the success of her first novel, and her subsequent retirement from the world, many have seen as a kind of Spanish JD Salinger. Laforet did not reach the extremes of the author of The catcher in the rye, who even took his biographer and his own daughter to court for books they had published about him. But he did make his attitude clear when, on one occasion, he answered the phone at her daughter's house and found a journalist on the other end of the line asking for an interview. “Imagine that I’ve died”, Laforet said. And he hung up.

Rondón-Baranda insists that Laforet continued writing until an advanced age, but that “he tore up all the pieces he wrote.” He believes that Laforet's enclosure in his own world was, on the one hand, a consequence of success irrepressible of Anything, which came to him when he was barely 24 years old. But, also, other factors, more limited to its genre and its historical time. In the 40s and 50s, it was not common for a woman to write. Her husband, the critic and journalist Manuel Cerezales, never hindered her, but we know that his friends asked him strangely, as if it were something incomprehensible, “and the way come your spouse writes?” All of this made her withdraw from the world more and more, but it did not prevent her from preserving the inner world of her.”