Cela: Banquet Speech

views updated

Cela: Banquet Speech

Cela’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 1989

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Swedish Academy is honouring me by inscribing my name in the margins of the roll of illustrious personages of contemporary world literature. It is an honour which is out of all proportion to my skill and ability. Apart from showing my gratitude with all my heart, I would like to be permitted to make clear that, if I have dared to arrive where I am now, it is only because I understand that the Prize is not just being awarded to me, but also to my contemporaries who write in the glorious language which is our tool: Spanish. I do not wish to dwell on this very sincere confession, for, since my teacher has been Miguel de Cervantes, I know full well that an argument, however good, does not seem so successful when propounded at length.

When on my way to Stockholm, in response to your benevolence, I asked myself about the reasons which brought me here. I surmised that your purpose was to reward the occupation rather than the person. If so, you have not erred, for, according to Cervantes—Cervantes once and for ever—the goal of literature is to give justice its rightful place by rendering to everyone what is his, and by understanding and upholding good laws. Literature is hazardously and irreversibly, my life, my death and my suffering, my vocation and my servitude, my constant yearning and my well-merited consolation. How peaceful my conscience becomes after I have said this!

Amongst the names honoured by the Nobel Prize, there are illustrious scientific personages, both global and contemporary, who are guided by the same praiseworthy aims which distinguish and characterize all of us: peace in our heads and our hearts, and solidarity between human beings and between peoples. I am aware that we have not reached the goal that we are aiming at, and that there are still many steps to be taken in serenity and good sense, with constancy, no doubt, but also with luck. I propose that we never wander off this salubrious road.

I raise a toast to the King and Queen of Sweden, who reign over a nation at peace; to the people of Sweden, who love peace; to the Swedish Academy and other Nobel Institutions, who sponsor peace; and to all those in the entire world who defend and proclaim peace. I raise a toast to peace.

[© The Nobel Foundation, 1989. Camilo José Cela is the sole author of his speech.]