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Legacy of Spanish Literary Icon to be Honored at UAlbany on Oct. 14

Gonzalo Torrente Ballester Began His Greatest Works While a Distinguished Professor at UAlbany, 1966-72

The nation of Spain honored Gonzalo Torrente Ballester with this commemorative stamp in 2010.

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 23, 2011) -- In the 1960s, famed Spanish novelist Gonzalo Torrente Ballester found creative refuge at the University at Albany after escaping the heavy hand of censorship under Francisco Franco's government.

Torrente Ballester joined the department of romance languages and literatures at UAlbany in 1966. He stayed until 1972 in what would prove to be a period of unparalleled creativity for him, and became the University's first distinguished professor.

As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Torrente Ballester's legacy will be honored on October 14 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. in the Science Library's Standish Room. The novelist will be recognized with a mini-symposium and series of readings sponsored by the Office of International Education and the New York State Writers Institute, including:

La saga/fuga de J.B. (1972)

• Fragmentos de apocalipsis (1977)

• La isla de los jacintos cortados (1980)

Torrente Ballester's Works

La saga/fuga de J.B., considered by many critics as his masterpiece, was conceived and created in Albany. Nobel Prize winner José Saramago said of this novel, "Until now, there was a vacant place next to Miguel de Cervantes, a place that has just been filled by Gonzalo Torrente Ballester."

Torrente Ballester was awarded the Cervantes Prize, which each year honors the lifetime achievement of a writer in the Spanish language from any nation.

Vice Provost for International Education Ray Bromley said Torrente Ballester had a special relationship with the University at Albany that is reflected in his works.

"Las Isla de los jacintos cortados is an award-winning novel that begins on our campus, features some real professors and students – some named, some with pseudonyms – and focuses on a love triangle featuring a scholar who claims to have proof that Napoleon never existed," noted Bromley.

While in Albany, Torrente Ballester also finished another novel, Off-Side (1969). Portions of his non-fiction book, Cuadernos de un vate vago (1982), also include narratives on New York State.

Films on the author and his work will be shown Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall on the Downtown Campus. A documentary on Torrente Ballester, GTB x GTB (Spain, 2009) and El Rey Pasmado [The Dumbfounded King] (in Spanish) based on an adaptation of his 1989 novel, will be shown as part of the NYSWI Film Series.

The Torrente Ballester events are occurring in tandem with the opening of the University Libraries exhibit, "The Worlds of Gonzalo Torrente Ballester in Albany, N.Y.," October 14-January 12 at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, located on the third floor of the Science Library.

"Given that this is the most comprehensive collection in the U.S., we hope that the exhibit and the event will help promote his works among faculty in U.S. universities who are interested in Gonzalo Torrente Ballester," said curator Jesus Alonso-Regalado. "Of special importance are his diaries and the two typescripts of his novel Don Juan housed in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives." The collection also contains first editions of Torrente Ballester's works, many of which were signed by the author.

The exhibition is being shown in collaboration with the Gonzalo Torrente Ballester Foundation, a research center in Spain established to protect and disseminate his work.


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