Destinations Magazine

Honouring Torrente Ballester

By Pabster @pabloacalvino

Spanish critic José Carlos Mainer and journalist Ángel Vivas have recently published a–totally unnecessary–article in paper El Mundo with apparently the sole purpose of dishonouring the name and works of some Spanish writers who lived during Franco times. An article that has made me jump on my seat. Particularly, they assert a good deal of nonsense to Gonzalo Torrente Ballester’s discredit, such as “the author personified the culture of Franco’s faction”, or “embodied the literary court of José Antonio” (a politician who inspired Franco), and also “behind his novels breathes a hideous ideology”, “he was a true member of Falange” (they only legal party during Franco’s dictatorship), for finally saying that his literary acknowledgment was due solely to his support for the Regime. By my faith, what a row of prattle! With such malicious lies for disparaging one of our greatest writers, Messieurs Mainer and Vivas turn out to be quite detrimental for History and literature.

It turns our that this humble blogger knows thoroughly Torrente’s works and biography; but, even for those who only know a little bit of him, it’s obvious that Ballester’s scarce ideological leanings had nothing to do with Falange, rather being quite fond of his region’s (Galicia) particular idiosyncrasy, and maybe with inclination to anarchism. Actually, before civil war, Don Gonzalo was a member of the Pro-Galician Party of regionalist undertones: nothing to the Regime’s liking. Yes, he afterwards joined Falange, just for survival reasons. Besides, there is close to nil politics in his novels, and the only ideological information a reader can possibly get from those books is a big love for Galicia–his homeland–and a liberal mentality, strongly open minded and of weak beliefs.

Worst of all, for topping the bill, Mainer and Vivas conclude their article with a downright allegation: Torrente Ballester’s novel Javier Mariño is paradigm of a conversion to Francoism. Good Lord! What a bizarre foolish remark meant for a book that was seized by Franco’s censorship!

Such a series of deceptive inaccuracies evidences, on one side, a critical sense blinded by God knows which frustrations, resentments or envies; and on the other side a thorough incomprehension of Torrente Ballester’s work. I have the feeling that Mr. Mainer, and perhaps Mr. Vivas as well, have not understood a single one of Torrente’s words; a man who mostly wrote, wrapped in a modest humorous veil, about beauty and love; that’s all about his novels. His only sin, never forgiven by the leftish to a writer, was to keep away from ideologies and having managed to survive Franco’s regime without going into exile. Actually, not only he didn’t owe his writer’s recognition to Francoism, but quite on the contrary: survival of the dictatorship severly hindered the much better acknowledgement he deserved.

What a big damage to Truth can entail the abuse of the privilege of being published!

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