Dr. Enrique Porrúa’s book on famed Spanish author Camilo José Cela was published this summer by the Edwin Mellen Press of New York.
A native of Spain, Dr. Porrúa’s book is a study of Cela’s “Galician trilogy” that was completed before the Nobel prize-winning author’s death in 1999. The 276-page book, titled “El Discurso Postmodernista en la Trilogía Gallega de Camilo José Cela,” is written in Spanish.
From the Galician region of northwestern Spain, the controversial and flamboyant Cela won virtually every major award for fiction as an author of novels, poetry, travel books, memoirs, short stories, essays, critiques and more. With his latest work on Cela, Dr. Porrúa has proved to be a versatile scholar.
It is Dr. Porrúa’s third book, following the publication of a work of history, “The Diary of Antonio de Tova on the Malaspina Expedition (1789-94),” in 2001 and a Spanish language textbook for the U.S. Special Forces.
“Camillo José Cela is one of, if not the most important writer of the twentieth Century in Spain,” Dr. Porrúa said. “The Galician trilogy is his only work that is set completely in his home region.”
“His work may be placed into two periods,” he said. “His first period, mostly modern, with conventional plots, narrative and timelines, and the second, in which he introduced the use of postmodern devices, such as broken timelines and plots, difficult to recognize characters, intertextuality, among others.”
Cela´s first work of fiction “La Familia de Pascual Duarte” featured a style of writing later known by critics as “tremendisno,” Dr. Porrúa said. “It is a form of writing that emphasizes the ugly aspects of life, the grotesque, cruel and obscure that are drawn from the dark side of existence.
“I like his later novels more, though,” he said. “They are not easy to understand, but I have so much fun when I read his books because of his superb control of the language and amazing use of comedy. In the later works, he uses devices related to the magical realism form with fantastic and often gruesome characters and anecdotes.”
Dr. Porrúa’s book is a seminal academic work on Cela. Early reviews indicate:
- “Porrúa’s study of these three difficult postmodern works, each requiring an informed, active and determined reader, will be of significant help to future scholars of Cela and especially to students of the Postmodern and of these three novels comprising his oft-cited and little-studied Galacian trilogy,” said Dr. Janet Perez of Texas Tech University in the book’s foreward.
- “Studies of the kind that Porrúa undertakes here often turn out to be a mechanical application of theory to the proposed works of study,” said Dr. Peter T. Imoro, a collegue at UNCP. “Enrique Porrúa’s work, on the other hand, skillfully establishes a balance between the analysis of the works and the theoretical framework he uses. The result is an insightful analysis of what the critical world considers to be (Camilo José) Cela’s most inaccessible works.”
- “In his work, Porrúa demonstrates how some of the literary devices used in (Camilo José Cela’s) three novels (such an obscenity, violence, cruelty, jeer and irony, character fragmentation, and the violation of traditional chronology, as well as the pessimistic existentialism) crystallize as symbols of postmodern literature,” said Dr. Manuel Prendes, Universidad de Piura of Perú
Cela’s trilogy – “Mazurca para dos muertos” (1983), “La cruz de San Andres’ (1994) and ‘Madera de boj” (1999) - shift from urban to rural to coastal settings in his native region.
“He did not write much about Galicia, but these three works are set there,” Dr. Porrúa said. “I discuss how the books form a trilogy, although not in a traditional way. They compliment each other in time and space.
“These books are very difficult to read, and I read them one sentence at a time,” he said. “I also discuss the use of postmodern devices in these novels.”
Dr. Porrúa, who leads an annual study abroad experience to his native Spain, is beginning his fifth year at UNCP in the English, Theatre and Languages Department. He completed undergraduate studies at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and earned a Master of Arts degree and a Ph.D. at Texas Tech University.