Juan Marsé: “His novel was a vivid recreation of corruption, brutality and repression in the years after the civil war.”

From a New York Times obit by Raphael Minder headlined “Juan Marse, 87, Who Wrote of Spain’s Dark Years”:

MADRID — Juan Marsé, one of Spain’s most acclaimed writers, whose novels mostly chronicled the dark years that followed the civil war in Barcelona, his home city, died on Saturday. . . .

Mr. Marsé wrote more than a dozen novels, several of them based on his experiences in La Salut and Guinardó, working-class neighborhoods of Barcelona that were home to many families who had fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side, which was defeated by Gen. Francisco Franco.

Some of his characters are petty criminals or anarchists operating in the most oppressive years under Franco, when Spain was being purged of his political enemies and struggling to recover economically from the war. . . .

Mr. Marsé won his first Spanish literary award, the Sesame prize, in 1959, for a short story. He then left Barcelona for Paris, where he worked as a translator, a Spanish-language teacher and a clerk at the Pasteur Institute, France’s prestigious medical research center.

In 1966, after returning to Barcelona, he published “Últimas Tardes con Teresa” (“Last Afternoons With Teresa”), a novel about class divisions. Considered his masterpiece, it propelled him to fame. The novel recounts the struggles of Manolo, a working-class petty criminal nicknamed El Pijoaparte, who tries to seduce a girl from Barcelona’s bourgeois society.

(The word “Pijoaparte” does not officially exist in the Spanish language, but, Mr. Cuenca said, it “will have to get added into the dictionary sooner or later” because it is now commonly used in Spain to describe an ambitious and unscrupulous person who comes from a humble social background.)

Reviewing an English translation of “The Fallen” — another of Mr. Marsé’s works that had been banned by Franco’s regime — in The New York Times Book Review in 1979, Ronald Fraser, an author of books on Spain, described Mr. Marsé as “one of the finest Spanish novelists of the postwar generation” and called the novel “a vivid recreation of corruption, brutality and repression” in the years after the civil war. . . .

Several of his novels were turned into movies, but he was never happy with those adaptations, and he publicly clashed with some of their directors.

“All the movies have been very faithful to the literary text, too faithful,” he once said. “I think they should have been turned upside down like a sock. There are other ways to say the same as in the book.”

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