Gironella, José María (Pous) 1917-2003

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GIRONELLA, José María (Pous) 1917-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born December 31, 1917, in Darnius, Gerona, Spain; died of a cerebral hematoma January 3, 2003, in Arenys de Mar, Spain. Novelist, journalist, and author. Gironella's prominence among Spanish authors was assured with the publication of his controversial trilogy of novels about the Spanish Civil War. The first volume, published in English as The Cypresses Believe in God, follows the fictional Alvear family in the years preceding the outbreak of the rebellion in 1936. The award-winning novel was a bestseller in Spain, and its English translation was hailed by some critics for the well-rounded perspective Gironella provided on the complex, conflicting issues and events surrounding the war. Others pointed out that the author fought alongside rebel leader Francisco Franco during the war, and that the novel was a blatant apology for the acts of the man who turned Spain into a fascist dictatorship. Still other critics claimed that, living within Franco's Spain as he did, Gironella found, through his fiction, a diplomatic and politically acceptable way to comment on the origins of the divisive rebellion. The second volume of the trilogy, published in English as One Million Dead, observes the Alvears during the war years, in which the family is torn apart by conflicting loyalties, and Gironella made it clear that there were many losses on both sides. The final volume, Peace after War, begins after the end of the conflict in 1939. It is for this trilogy that the author is most often remembered, especially outside Spain. Gironella worked as a newspaper reporter and correspondent early in his career. He was a prolific author for many years, with short stories, histories, travel books, and other nonfiction works to his credit. Among his other novels, only a few appeared in English, including Where the Soil Was Shallow and Phantoms and Fugitives: Journeys to the Improbable.



Encyclopedia of World Literature in the TwentiethCentury, Volume 2, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999, p. 261.


Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2003, p. B14.

New York Times, January 5, 2003, obituary by Eric Pace, p. A27.

Times (London, England), January 17, 2003.

Washington Post, January 4, 2003, p. B6.