Spanish writer Javier Marias dies

obituary

Spanish writer Javier Marias dies at the age of 70

Javier Marias became world famous in 1996 with his novel “My Heart Is So White”, as well as thanks to the television program “Literary Quartet”, which enthusiastically praised the novel. The author died suddenly a few days before his 71st birthday.

Writer Javier Marias at his home in Madrid 2015.

Photo: JP Gandul/EPA

On his 70th birthday nearly a year ago, Javier Marías was as critical and controversial as ever. According to some critics, the man, one of the most important and successful contemporary Spanish writers, who also has many admirers in Switzerland, was at the best literary levels. Marias died unexpectedly on Sunday, a few days before his 71st birthday. And the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, reported that he had contracted pneumonia as a result of being infected with Corona.

Literary critic José Carlos Meiner judged his latest book, the spy novel Thomas Nevinson, published in Spain in the spring of 2021, to be Marias’ best work ever. From this fall, the novel will also be available with a German translation from Fischer Verlag. For a long time, the uncomfortable thinker was difficult to sell, even in Germany. Even “My Heart Is So White” in the summer of 1996 – about four years after the Spanish version appeared – was unanimously praised on the TV show “Das Literarisches Quartett”.

“The greatest writer in the world”

“Literary Pope” Marcel Rich Ranici, who died in 2013, spoke of a “wonderful book” and “the greatest writer in the world living at the moment.” After airing and more positive reviews, the novel topped the bestseller lists and the German translation alone sold 1.2 million copies.

Marías, who was a member of the Royal Spanish Academy, was pleased with the success but also wanted to keep a critical distance. “I’m not good because other people say that.” A year ago, he stressed the existence of writers “whose books were only sold a few thousand copies and were recorded in history.”

One of the eternal nominees for the Nobel Prize

According to his publisher Alfaguara, the sixteen Marías novels have been translated into 46 languages ​​and have sold over nine million copies. The author is one of the “eternal nominees for the Nobel Prize”. He was praised in heaven by notable peers like Orhan Pamuk and JM Coetzee. A frequent smoker and a late fourth, he openly admitted he had always had “massive insecurity” when he started a new business in his apartment filled with books in central Madrid.

“The older he gets, the more he understands how novels are made less and less,” Marias said a year ago. While the blank white paper—Marias hated computers and was always typed—caused him discomfort, the final work often annoyed the literary historian and university teacher. “All my novels look bad to me once they are finished. I often want to throw all the pages in the trash,” he said at the time.

In his youth he made a living as a street singer

Marias wasn’t just hard on himself. In his column in El Pais, he mercilessly criticized many things. He complained of authoritarian heads of government of all stripes: “We live in a time full of celebrity idiots.”

The man, who, according to his stories, began writing at the age of eleven, and made a living as a street singer in Paris in his youth, has always been a rebel in the world of literature. He rarely gave interviews, refused to award prizes from government agencies in Spain – and did not accept any advance payments. “I will lose my freedom. A book that was not good cannot be put in the drawer.”

His father was a philosopher and was in prison an opponent of Franco

The author was the second youngest of Julian Marias’ five children. The well-known philosopher (1914-2005) spent a long time behind bars as an opponent of Franco’s dictatorship and was forced to emigrate to the United States for a period in the mid-1950s. Javier Marias grew up bilingual. He earned his first money as a child, not only through brief appearances in the films of his uncle Jesús Franco, but also as a translator. He studied at Oxford University in the 1980s. He worked on his experiences in Great Britain in the novel “All Souls or the Madmen of Oxford” (1989).

Marias’ work includes not only novels, essays, columns, and short stories, but also numerous translations from the English language. The literary marks of the ardent supporter of Real Madrid football club included subtle language, a mixture of fact and fiction and broad sentences. Deal mainly with topics such as betrayal, love and desire.

Marías, who was hailed as the “innovator” of Spanish literature in the 1980s, once said that writing was essentially “unnatural and funny.” Described in “The Mortal Lovers” (2011). According to Marias, a publisher employee of the novel discovered through daily contact with the authors, “How annoying, stupid and conceited we are (the writers).” (dpa)

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