Cervantes winner Matute: A child's view of Spain's Civil War

Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:50am EDT
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By Fiona Ortiz

MADRID (Reuters) - Prize-winning novelist Ana Maria Matute, who spent a literary lifetime exploring the crushed innocence of her childhood during the Spanish Civil War, died on Wednesday of a heart attack, her son told Reuters.

She was 88 years old and lived in Barcelona.

Her novels spanning the 1940s to the 1960s depicted the devastation of rural, war-torn Spain from a child's perspective.

In her 1959 novel "School of the Sun", a girl named Maria comes of age while the war divides her family and her town on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, with a doll named Gorogo her sole confidant.

Maria's gradual abandonment of the doll and of fairy tales, and her friendship with a boy who is ostracized in the village, mark her transition to adulthood.

Decades later, when Matute won Spain's highest literary award, the Cervantes - she was the third woman to receive the honor - she spoke of her own Gorogo, a doll her father brought her from London when she was five, who became her only friend.

"I take it on all my trips and I still tell it what I can't tell anybody," she said in her acceptance speech in 2010.

Matute and other writers scarred by the 1936-1939 war - Juan Goytisolo, Ignacio Aldecoa, Carmen Martin Gaite and Carmen Laforet - were dubbed the generation of the frightened children.   Continued...

Spanish author Ana Maria Matute delivers her speech during a ceremony where she received the "Premio Cervantes" Literature Award at the University of Alcala de Henares, near Madrid, April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Angel Diaz/Pool