The family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela


The family of Pascual Durate by Camilo José Cela

Spanish Literature

Orginal title –  La familia de Pascual Duarte

Translator – Anthony Kerrigan

Source – personnel copy

Why should what I write here be of use to other ,stop judges from judging ,spare unfortunates ,innocent or guilty ,the agony to which I have been condemned ? What’s the point ? What does it matter ? After my head has been cut off ,what is it to me if they cut off other people’s ?

Victor Hugo source my own review of his book the last days of condemned man .

I said earlier in the year I wanted to add depth to the blog ,I’ve read loads and loads of recent books in translation .But the time has come to start sprinkling one or two earlier books to the blog to add depth but also to see where modern books come from ,it’s easy to compare to English books ,but the feeling for me is wanting to find what from the original language may have influence the writer .So to Camilo Jose Cela ,the 1989 Nobel prize-winning Spanish writer ,he is a name I’ve long wanted to add the blog ,he is the main figure in the Spanish literature movement known as Tremendismo ,a cross between extreme realism and existential angst .He wrote over 50 books ,was out spoken once describing the Cervantes prize as being covered in shit (he went on to win this award ) .The Family of Pascual Duarte was his first novel .The second of my Spanish lit month choices .

My father and mother didn’t get along at all .They had been badly brought up ,were endowed with no special virtues , and could not resign themselves to their lot.Andtheir defects,all of them .I inherited to my misfortune .

His early life was one of hard times and violence .

The family of Pascual Duarte ,is the story of one man’s life Pascual Durate ,he grew up in a poverty-stricken world ,his life is one of endless losses .He has a brutal mother  that cheats on his father ,a father who dies of a rabid dog bite  .He then marries a woman who constantly cheats on him , a brother who died young after being bullied by a step father and a sister that becomes a prostitute .This world is very brutal world  one where violence is a way of life in fact in the mind of Pascual it becomes the only way out of his life .He is sitting in a cell telling us his story ,as he took the final plunge in this brutal world and killed his family .The world surrounding him is one of shifting power this book cover the period before Franco and the first year of the Civil war .The bulk of the story is a document found after his death .

The memory of my poor brother Mario used to haunt me .If I had a son who suffered like Mario ,a son who had his luck and his misfortune .I’d have drowned him to save him from any more suffering .

Pascual remembering his poor brother who had less luck than him in life .

Now the main book mention on both the back cover and Wiki page for this is of course Camus The stranger ,it is hard for me to say ,as I read that book more than twenty years ago ,but I know the world of writinng at the time this book was written 1942  .This book fits neatly alongside Camus ,Buzzati and Kafka as one man’s struggle against the world  .But for me the book I was most remind of was one I reviewed a few months ago ,the last days of a condemned man by Victor Hugo.A similar feel of a man giving his last testament a looking back on a life and what brought some to the point of killing someone .I so pleased I choose this as my first book from him to read as it was his debut and I want to try his other books now like the The hive as he has for me become one I want to complete as much as I can in what is available in English .

Have you read Cela ?


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Miguel St. Orberose
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 13:52:27

    Hm, sounds better and more interesting than the Cela I read a few years ago, something called La cruz de San Andrés. Disliked it so much I never felt like returning to him. And after discovering Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, I have the impression the Swedish Academy screwed up once again.


  2. Anokatony
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 15:06:25

    ‘Pascual Duarte’ is a wonderful read, and I also was impressed by ‘The Hive’.

    As long as you are going back in time to find great writers, you might want to read the Portuguese writer Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz, a writer whom Emile Zola said was better than Flaubert. I’ve read several of Eca de Queiroz’ works and remember especially liking ‘The Relic’ and ‘The Maias’.


  3. 1streading
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 19:00:24

    I knew I had one of Cela’s books and, having hunted it down, it turns out to be The Family of Pascual Duarte! You have inspired me to actually read it.


  4. obooki
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 20:18:13

    I didn’t much enjoy Pascual Duarte, but really enjoyed The Hive. I also have Christ vs Arizona, which I may try to read this month: I think it’s a single sentence novel about the gunfight at the OK corral, but without getting up and looking I could be mistaken.


  5. Guy Savage
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 23:12:56

    This is a new name for me Stu, and from the sounds of the book, I might like it. Thanks. I was going to say that the character suffered a lot of bad luck, but it sounds as though it all comes down to poverty.


  6. Violet
    Jul 04, 2014 @ 05:45:00

    I’m a complete novice when it comes to Spanish literature, so it’s good to see you exploring some of the influences and connections.

    I couldn’t leave a comment on Richard’s blog – blogspot doesn’t allow me to – so here’s a link to my first Spanish Lit Month post: With My Dog-Eyes, Hilda Hilst, tr. Adam Morris

    Have you read it? I found it pretty wild and weird. 🙂


    • Violet
      Jul 05, 2014 @ 04:23:51

      Obviously, I should have remembered that Brazil’s language is Portuguese and not Spanish, so yeah, my post doesn’t qualify for Spanish Lit Month. How VERY embarrassing!


  7. Caroline
    Jul 05, 2014 @ 07:09:46

    I totally forgot that I own this book. Now I’m so glad. It really sounds like something I will appreciate a lot.


  8. Trackback: Very Inspiring Book Blogs | Word by Word
  9. Scott W.
    Jul 08, 2014 @ 23:07:27

    I know nothing of Cela other than having read somewhere that Roberto Bolaño was rather violently dismissive of him, which naturally piques my interest, as does your post.


  10. whisperinggums
    Jul 09, 2014 @ 14:57:56

    No, but I have had this on my TBR pile for a few years now – and just noticed it again a few days ago when I was looking for something else. It’s not very long so you’d think I could squeeze it in wouldn’t you.

    BTW I love your comment about reading older books to add depth to your blog. I was just saying to someone the other day about how it is important to do this, and how we bloggers, unlike newspaper reviewers, can do it easily. We can just decided we want to!


  11. Trackback: Soul of Wood | 1streading's Blog
  12. Trackback: The boy whole Stole Attila’s horse by Iván Repila | Winstonsdad's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

July 2014


%d bloggers like this: