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Javier Marías

Javier Marías
Born (1951-09-20) 20 September 1951
Occupation Novelist, Translator, Columnist
Notable works All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow In The Battle Think On Me, Your Face Tomorrow

Javier Marías (born 20 September 1951) is a Spanish novelist, translator, and columnist.[1] He is one of Spain's most celebrated novelists, and his work has been translated into 42 languages.[2]


  • Life 1
    • Writing 1.1
    • Redonda 1.2
  • Awards and honours 2
  • Bibliography 3
    • Spanish titles 3.1
    • English translations 3.2
  • Further reading 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Javier Marías was born in Madrid. His father was the philosopher Julián Marías, who was briefly imprisoned and then banned from teaching for opposing Franco (the father of the protagonist of Your Face Tomorrow was given a similar biography). Marias is the fourth of five sons [3] and spent parts of his childhood in the United States, where his father taught at various institutions, including Yale University and Wellesley College. His mother died when Javier was 26 years old. His first literary employment consisted in translating Dracula scripts for his maternal uncle, Jesús Franco.[4][5] He was educated at the Colegio Estudio in Madrid.


Marías began writing in earnest at an early age. "The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga", one of the short stories in While the Women are Sleeping (2010), was written when he was just 14.[6] He wrote his first novel, Los dominios del lobo (The Dominions of the Wolf), at the age of 17, after running away to Paris. His second novel, Travesía del horizonte (Voyage Along the Horizon), was an adventure story about an expedition to Antarctica.

After attending the Complutense University of Madrid, Marías turned his attention to translating English novels into Spanish. His translations included work by Updike, Hardy, Conrad, Nabokov, Faulkner, Kipling, James, Stevenson, Browne, and Shakespeare. In 1979 he won the Spanish national award for translation for his version of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Between 1983 and 1985 he lectured in Spanish literature and translation at the University of Oxford.

In 1986 Marías published El hombre sentimental (The Man of Feeling), and in 1988 Todas las almas (All Souls), which was set at Oxford University. The Spanish film director Gracia Querejeta released El Último viaje de Robert Rylands, adapted from Todas las almas, in 1996. His 1992 novel Corazón tan blanco was a commercial and critical success and for its English version A Heart So White, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, Marías and Costa were joint winners of the 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His 1994 novel, Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí, won the Venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos Prize.

The protagonists of the novels written since 1986 are all interpreters or translators of one kind or another, based on his own experience as a translator and teacher of translation at Oxford University. Of these protagonists, Marías has written, "They are people who are renouncing their own voices."[3]

In 2002 Marías published Tu rostro mañana 1. Fiebre y lanza (Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear), the first part of a trilogy that is his most ambitious literary project. The first volume is dominated by a translator, an elderly don based on an actual professor emeritus of Spanish studies at Oxford University, Sir Peter Russell. The second volume, Tu rostro mañana 2. Baile y sueño (Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream), was published in 2004. In 2007, Marías the completed the final installment, Tu rostro mañana 3. Veneno y sombra y adiós (Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell).

Marías operates a small publishing house under the name of Reino de Redonda. He also writes a weekly column in El País. In 2005-06 an English version of his column, "La Zona Fantasma", appeared in the monthly magazine The Believer.[7]

Marías was elected to seat R of the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) in 2006. At his investiture in 2008 he agreed with Robert Louis Stevenson that the work of novelists is "pretty childish," but also argued that it is impossible to narrate real events, and that “you can only fully tell stories about what has never happened, the invented and imagined.”[8]

In 2013, Marías was awarded the prestigious Prix Formentor.[9]


See also Kingdom of Redonda.

Marías's novel, Todas las almas (All Souls), included a portrayal of the poet John Gawsworth, who was also the third King of Redonda. Although the fate of this monarchy after the death of Gawsworth is contested, the portrayal by Marías so affected the "reigning" king, Jon Wynne-Tyson, that he abdicated and left the throne to Marías in 1997. This course of events was chronicled in his "false novel," Dark Back of Time. The book was inspired by the reception of Todas las almas by many people who, falsely according to Marías, believed they were the source of the characters in Todas las almas. Since "taking the throne" of Redonda, Marías has begun a publishing imprint named Reino de Redonda ("Kingdom of Redonda").

Marías has conferred many titles during his reign upon people he likes, including upon Pedro Almodóvar (Duke of Trémula), António Lobo Antunes (Duke of Cocodrilos), John Ashbery (Duke of Convexo), Pierre Bourdieu (Duke of Desarraigo), William Boyd (Duke of Brazzaville), Michel Braudeau (Duke of Miranda), A. S. Byatt (Duchess of Morpho Eugenia), Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Duke of Tigres), Pietro Citati (Duke of Remonstranza), Francis Ford Coppola (Duke of Megalópolis), Agustín Díaz Yanes (Duke of Michelín), Roger Dobson (Duke of Bridaespuela), Frank Gehry (Duke of Nervión), Francis Haskell (Duke of Sommariva), Eduardo Mendoza (Duke of Isla Larga), Ian Michael (Duke of Bernal), Orhan Pamuk (Duke of Colores), Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Duke of Corso), Francisco Rico (Duke of Parezzo), Sir Peter Russell (Duke of Plazatoro), Fernando Savater (Duke of Caronte), W. G. Sebald (Duke of Vértigo), Jonathan Coe (Duke of Prunes), Luis Antonio de Villena (Duke of Malmundo), and Juan Villoro (Duke of Nochevieja).

In addition, Marías created a literary prize, to be judged by the dukes and duchesses. In addition to prize money, the winner receives a duchy. Winners: 2001 – Umberto Eco (Duke of la Isla del Día de Antes); 2009Marc Fumaroli (Duke of Houyhnhnms).[3][10][11][12][13]

Awards and honours


Spanish titles

  • Los dominios del lobo (1971)
  • Travesía del horizonte (Voyage Along the Horizon, 1973)
  • El monarca del tiempo (1978)
  • El siglo (1983)
  • El hombre sentimental (The Man of Feeling, 1986)
  • Todas las almas (All Souls, 1989)
  • Corazón tan blanco (A Heart So White, 1992)
  • Vidas escritas (Written Lives, 1992) (literary biography)
  • Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí (Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me, 1994)
  • Cuando fui mortal (When I Was Mortal 1996) (short stories)
  • Negra espalda del tiempo (Dark Back of Time, 1998)
  • Tu rostro mañana 1. Fiebre y lanza (Your Face Tomorrow 1: Fever and Spear, 2002)
  • Tu rostro mañana 2. Baile y sueño (Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream, 2004)
  • Tu rostro mañana 3. Veneno y sombra y adiós (Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell, 2007)
  • Los enamoramientos (The Infatuations, 2011)
  • Así empieza lo malo (2014)

English translations

All English translations by Margaret Jull Costa and published in America by New Directions unless otherwise indicated:

Further reading

  • Berg, Karen, Javier Marías's Postmodern Praxis: Humor and Interplay between Reality and Fiction in his Novels and Essays (2008)
  • Cunado, Isabel, El Espectro de la Herencia: La Narrativa de Javier Marias (2004)
  • Herzberger, David K. A Companion to Javier Marías. Rochester, NY: Tamesis Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1-85566-230-8


  1. ^ Nicholas Wroe (22 February 2013). "Javier Marías: a life in writing".  
  2. ^ Stephen Heyman (25 September 2014). "Javier Marías: Spain’s Elegant Master Novelist".  
  3. ^ a b c Aida Edemariam, "Looking for Luisa", The Guardian, 7 May 2005.
  4. ^ Hardworking King of Redonda.
  5. ^ New Directions Publishing biography.
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Contributors - Javier Marías, Believer Magazine.
  8. ^ Javier Marias joins Spanish Royal Academy.
  9. ^ a b Winston Manrique Sabogal (April 23, 2013). "El Formentor rinde homenaje a la literatura de Javier Marías". El Pais (in Spanish). Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  10. ^ Pablo Martín Cerone, "Historia del Reino de Redonda", Quinta Dimension.(Spanish)
  11. ^ "El Espejo del Mar – Recuerdos e impresiones".
  12. ^ "Fallo del VII Premio Reino de Redonda", 3 May 2007.
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (May 12, 2015). "Previous Winners".  
  15. ^ Kirsten Reach (January 14, 2014). "NBCC finalists announced".  
  16. ^ "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 

External links

  • Sarah Fay (Winter 2006). "Javier Marias, The Art of Fiction No. 190". The Paris Review. 
  • Chelsea Bauch, "Exclusive Q&A: Spanish Author Javier Marías", 30 November 2009.
  • "Airships" (translated by Margaret Jull Costa), Granta 107, Summer 2009.
  • "Javier Marías", BBC HardTalk Extra, 3 March 2006. Video
  • Wyatt Mason, "A Man Who Wasn't There", The New Yorker, 14 November 2005.
  • "Feeling London's bombs in Madrid", New York Times 11 July 2005.
  • Sarah Emily Miano, "Betrayal of a blood brother", The Observer, 8 May 2005.
  • Aida Edemariam, "Looking for Luisa", The Guardian, 7 May 2005.
  • "How to remember, how to forget", The New York Times, September 11, 2004.
  • "Fewer Scruples", Barcelona Review, No. 15, November 1999.
  • "The Limits of Human Memory: On Proust and Javier Marías" The Quarterly Conversation, Issue 17.
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