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Francisco Ayala, Critic of Franco, Dies


T. Rees Shapiro, a contributor the obit desk, just wrote the obituary for Francisco Ayala, one of Spain's most celebrated writers. Mr. Ayala died Nov. 3 at his home in Madrid at 103.

Shapiro writes:
Thumbnail image for shapirot.jpg Francisco Ayala was part of a generation of exiled Spanish writers, including Federico Garcia Lorca, whose works reflected the violence they witnessed during the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Mr. Ayala wrote more than 50 novels, short stories and essays commenting on his life in exile and the suffering in his country under Franco's rule.

Mr. Ayala wrote dark tales of misery and oppresion fueled by dictators with unquenchable addictions for power. Critics called his works masterpeices of Hispanic literature, and spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero called him a symbol of the country's "moral reconstruction" during Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Thumbnail image for franciscoayala.jpeg

The secret to Mr. Ayala's enduring success was mostly his genius but partly his longevity said Malcolm Compitello, head of the Spanish and Portuguese department at the University of Arizona. He said because Mr. Ayala outlived most of his fellow writers, he dominated the Spanish literary scene for a period of almost 25 years.

Mr. Ayala jokingly attributed his success and long life to two favorite vices: "honey and whiskey."

By Adam Bernstein  |  November 4, 2009; 3:10 PM ET
 
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