The first Camilo José Cela manuscript, found

First pages of the book.

First pages of the book.

Cultura

The manuscript is the collection of poems Pisando la dudosa luz del día, which Camilo José Cela wrote from November 1 to 11, 1936, driven by the death of his girlfriend in tragic circumstances, victim of the bombings of the first major siege of Franco’s troops in Madrid, to which he would later enlist. The young poet, influenced by the works of Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre and, above all, Pablo Neruda, wrote verses since 1934, when he abandoned his medical studies to attend, hidden from his parents, the lessons taught by Pedro Salinas in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters.

Cela himself defined this early work as "a book of phenomenal, monstrous verses, the verses that can only be written when one feels Death in his own hands". With a title taken from a verse of the Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea, by Luis de Góngora, Pisando la dudosa luz del día: Poemas de una adolescencia cruel was published in 1945 in Barcelona by the label Ediciones del Zodíaco, owned by Carlos F. Maristany (1913-1985), a publisher of great taste and quality, who would later publish the complete version, without censorship alterations, of La vida de Pascual Duarte. Finally, in 2008 Adolfo Sotelo published, with the collaboration of Marta Cristina Carbonell, professor of Hispanic Literature at the University of Barcelona, a philological edition of the book in Ediciones Línteo. However, the original manuscript of the book was still lost.

After fourteen years of research, Professor Sotelo found the original document —which will soon see the light of day in a facsimile edition—, dating from 1939 and in the hands of María Isabel Maristany, daughter of the owner and director of Ediciones del Zodíaco. This discovery completes the knowledge of all the manuscripts of the main Celian works, from La familia de Pascual Duarte (1942) to Madera de boj (1999), kept in the Fundación Pública Gallega Camilo José Cela in Iria Flavia (Coruña).

This is a 17×21 cm notebook that gathers the typewritten texts of twelve poems. In the author’s own handwriting, the following features are noted: the subtitle Poemas de una adolescencia cruel is decided, the poem Anuncio de una declaración de amor is deleted, a preliminary note and the dedication are added, three general paratexts are eliminated —one of them by Max Aub— and, in Sotelo’s words, "variants are established and Cela’s calculated strategy is revealed in the dedications of the poems to open up horizons in his becoming of a professional writer".

Adolfo Sotelo Vázquez is a professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Barcelona. His research work has focused on the connections between literature and thought and on the relations between peninsular cultures. He is currently in charge of the research project "Camilo José Cela: del manuscrito al libro" and is a regular columnist for La Vanguardia newspaper. He has published, among other books, Leopoldo Alas y el fin de siglo (1988), Miguel de Unamuno: Artículos en Las Noticias de Barcelona (1899-1902) (1993), Perfiles de Clarín (2001), El Naturalismo en España: Crítica y novela (2002), Viajeros en Barcelona (2005), Camilo José Cela, perfiles de un escritor (2008), De Cataluña y España: Relaciones culturales y literarias (1868-1960) (Editions and Publications of the UB, 2014) and Variaciones Cela (Editions and Publications of the UB, 2018). He has edited works, apart from Camilo José Cela, by Francisco Giner de los Ríos, Juan Valera, Benito Pérez Galdós, Leopoldo Alas, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Miguel de Unamuno, Américo Castro and Carmen Martín Gaite, among others.


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