Authors: José María Gironella

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Spanish novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Un hombre, 1946 (Where the Soil Was Shallow, 1957)

La marea, 1949

Los cipreses creen en Dios, 1953 (The Cypresses Believe in God, 1957)

Un millón de muertos, 1961 (One Million Dead, 1963)

Mujer, levántate y anda, 1962

Ha estallado la paz, 1966 (Peace After War, 1969)

Condenados a vivir, 1971

Cita en el cementerio, 1983

Los hombres lloran solas, 1986

La dud inquietante, 1988

Ala sombra de Chopin, 1990

El corazón alberga muchas sombras, 1995

Se hace camino al andar, 1997

El apocalipsis, 2001

Short Fiction:

Todos somos fugitivos, 1961 (English translation, 1964)


Ha llegado el invierno y tú no estás aquí, 1945


El novelista ante el mundo, 1954

Los fantasmas de mi cerebro, 1959 (Phantoms and Fugitives: Journeys to the Improbable, 1964; includes translation of Todos somos fugitivos)

Personas, ideas, y mares, 1963

El Japón y su duende, 1964

China, lágrima innumerable, 1965

Gritos del mar, 1967

Conversaciones con don Juan de Borbon, 1968

En Asia se muere bajo las estrellas, 1968

Cien españoles y Dios, 1969

El Mediterraneo es un hombre disfrazado de mar, 1974

El escandola de Tierra Santa, 1977

Carta a mi padre muerto, 1978

Jerusalén de los Evangelios, 1989

Yo, Mahoma, 1989

Carta a mi madre muerta, 1992

Nuevos 100 españoles y Dios, 1994


José María Gironella (hee-roh-NEH-yah) was born in the province of Gerona, Catalonia; his full name was originally José María Gironella Pous. Following his primary school education he was placed in an ecclesiastical seminary, but he was not interested in a religious vocation and left when he was thirteen years old. This marked the end of his formal education. Between 1933 and 1936 Gironella worked at various occupations: He served apprenticeships in a liquor factory and in a grocery business, and later he became a clerk in a bank. When the Spanish Civil War broke out he enlisted and was at the front during most of that conflict. After the war ended in 1939 Gironella sold used books and worked in the wholesale clothing business. He married in l946, promising his wife he would give her the Nadal Prize as a wedding present. That same year his first novel, Where the Soil Was Shallow, was published and awarded the Nadal Prize. A second novel, La marea (the tide), appeared two years later.{$I[AN]9810000207}{$I[A]Gironella, José María}{$I[geo]SPAIN;Gironella, José María}{$I[tim]1917;Gironella, José María}

Gironella moved to Paris in 1948, and for a year he supplemented his income by giving chess lessons and driving a truck; he was thereafter able to support himself with his writing. He remained in Paris until 1952, with trips to England and Switzerland, and then returned to Spain.

Gironella’s major contribution to literature is a comprehensive and nonpartisan trilogy dealing with the Spanish Civil War and its ramifications. The initial segment, a novel entitled The Cypresses Believe in God, was a major success in Spain when it appeared in 1953, and its English translation gained the author international renown. A long and powerful book, it deals with a middle-class provincial family and the effect of political upheavals upon them during that chaotic period just prior to the Spanish Civil War. It was widely praised as the greatest novel to emerge from Spain in many years.

One Million Dead, the second segment of the trilogy, was published in 1961. More detached than its predecessor and lacking the youthful drive of the earlier volume, it is nonetheless a clear portrayal of what its author saw and experienced, and it provides a sane appraisal of chaos.

The final volume of the trilogy, Peace After War, which appeared in 1966, continues the story of the Alvear family. This long novel moves at a leisurely pace; the viewpoint moves back from the characters, and the scene broadens into an overall view of a nation trying to recover from the most destructive kind of war.

Gironella’s purpose in writing his trilogy was to analyze the problems of twentieth century Spain. He did so by recreating prewar conditions, the military struggle, and the long recovery; it is to his credit that he kept partisanship and ideology to a minimum.

BibliographyDial, John. “Gironella’s Chronicles Revisited: A Panorama of Fratricide.” Papers on Language and Literature l0 (Winter, l974). Offers a reexamination of the famous trilogy following the publication of his novel Condenados a vivir in l97l.Ilie, Paul. “Fictive History in Gironella.” Journal of Spanish Studies: Twentieth Century 2 (1974). Shows that Gironella points out relationships between the novel and historical events of the time. Citations from the novels are all in the original Spanish.Schwartz, Ronald. José María Gironella. New York: Twayne, l972. A comprehensive account of Gironella’s achievements and works.Thomas, Gareth. The Novel of the Spanish Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Gironella’s trilogy receives a chapter, and the introductory chapters are valuable in providing a context. The citations from Gironella and his critics are all in the original Spanish or French.
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