Carmen Laforet

Carmen Laforet (6 September 1921 – 28 February 2004) was a Spanish writer.

Born in Barcelona, Carmen moved to Las Palmas, in the island of Gran Canaria, part of the Canary Islands, in 1923, when she was two years old. When she was twelve, in 1933, her mother died, and her father married a woman with whom Carmen never had a good relationship.

After the Spanish Civil War, in 1939, 18-year-old Carmen moved back to Barcelona to study Philosophy, but did not complete her degree. Three years later, in 1942, she moved to Madrid to study Law at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, but never finished her studies. She never went to classes, and spent much of her time writing her first novel.

In 1944, she published Nada, which set her to literary fame and won the Nadal Prize in 1945. A year later, in 1946, Carmen married the writer and literary critic Manuel Cerezales, and the couple had five children.

After her succes, she started suffering from insecurity and social phobia, and constantly struggled with depression and anxiety. Later, she even started to suffer from graphophobia.

In 1951, Carmen met the tennis player and journalist Lilí Álvarez and fell in love with her. Upon meeting Lilí, she sought refuge in mysticism, and converted to Roman Catholicism that same year. Their relationship would continue until 1958. 

Laforet was deeply devoted to Saint Teresa of Ávila, and her Catholic mysticism is strongly present in her novel La mujer nueva (1955), which won the Menorca Prize in 1955 and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize the following year. 

Carmen did not get along with her husband and the couple divorced in 1970. In one of the clauses of the separation agreement, Carmen had to commit herself not to reveal aspects of her married life in her books.

Between 1970 and 1977, she moved to Rome, and made continuous trips between the United States, France and Italy. These are years of nomadism, physical neglect, and depression. By the 1960’s, Carmen had become addicted to amphetamines and, after her divorce, she distanced herself from public life even more. 

During her later years, Laforet suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and eventually lost her ability to speak. When she died, in 2004, she had not spoken a word for several years.

Books

Prose

  • Nada (1944)
    • Nada, tr. Edith Grossman (2007)
  • La isla y los demonios (1950)
  • La mujer nueva (1955)
  • La insolación (1963)
  • Al volver la esquina (2004)

Short stories and novellas

  • El piano (1952, novella)
  • Un noviazgo (1953, novella)
  • La llamada (1954. Includes: La llamadaEl último veranoUn noviazgo and El piano)
  • Los emplazados (1954, novella)
  • El viaje divertido (1954, novella)
  • La niña (1954, novella)
  • Un matrimonio (1956, novella)
  • La niña y otros relatos (1970, short stories)
  • Rosamunda, story included in Cuentos de este siglo, edited by Ángeles Encinar (1995)
  • Al colegio, story included in Madres e hijas, edied by Laura Freixas (1996)
  • Carta a don Juan (2007, collected short stories)
  • Romeo y Julieta II (2008, collected love stories)

Nonfiction

  • Gran Canaria (1961, travel guide)
  • Paralelo 35 (1967, travel writing. Reissued in 1981 with the title Mi primer viaje a USA)
  • Artículos literarios (1977, journalism)
  • Puedo contar contigo:1965-1975 (2003, letters with Ramón J. Sender)
  • De corazón y alma: 1947-1952 (2017, letters with  Elena Fortún)

About her

  • Carmen Laforet: Una mujer en fuga, by Anna Caballé and Israel Rolón (2010)
  • Música blanca, by Cristina Cerezales (2009, memoir by Laforet’s daughter)
  • Carmen Laforet. Vidas Literarias, by Teresa Rosenvinge and Benjamin Prado (2004)
  • Mujeres de la posguerra, by Inmaculada de La Fuente (2002)
  • Carmen Laforet, by Agustin Cerezales (1982)
  • Carmen Laforet, by Roberta Johnson (1979)

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