jueves, 31 de diciembre de 2015

Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov by Tony Salmons

Vladimir Nabokov 

Saint Peterbusg, 1899 - Montreaux, Switzerland, 1977

Lepidopterist, profesor, novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made contributions to entomologyand had an interest in chess problems.
Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as among his most important novels and is his most widely known, exhibiting the love of intricate word play and synesthetic detail that characterised all his works. The novel was ranked at No.4 in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels. Pale Fire (1962) was ranked at No.53 on the same list. His memoir, Speak, Memory, was listed No.8 on the Modern Library nonfiction list.

 Nabokov was born on 22 April 1899 (10 April 1899 Old-Style), in Saint Petersburg, to a wealthy and prominent Saint Petersburg of the minor nobility. He was the eldest of five children of liberal lawyer, statesman, and journalist Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov and his wife, née Elena Ivanovna Rukavishnikova. His cousins included the composer Nicolas Nabokov. He spent his childhood and youth in St. Petersburg and at the country estate Vyra near Siverskaya, south of the city.
Nabokov's childhood, which he called "perfect", was remarkable in several ways. The family spoke Russian, English, and French in their household, and Nabokov was trilingual from an early age. In fact, much to his patriotic father's chagrin, Nabokov could read and write English before he could Russian. In Speak, Memory Nabokov recalls numerous details of his privileged childhood, and his ability to recall in vivid detail memories of his past was a boon to him during his permanent exile, as well as providing a theme that echoes from his first book, Mary, all the way to later works such as Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. While the family was nominally Orthodox, they felt no religious fervor, and little Vladimir was not forced to attend church after he lost interest. In 1916, Nabokov inherited the estate Rozhdestveno, next to Vyra, from his uncle Vasiliy Ivanovich Rukavishnikov ("Uncle Ruka" in Speak, Memory), but lost it in the revolution one year later; this was the only house he would ever own.

Nabokov House in Saint Petersburg where Nabokov was born and lived
the first 18 years of his life

 After the 1917 February Revolution, Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov became became a secretary of the Russian Provisional Government, and the family was forced to flee the city after the Bolshevik Revolution for Crimea, not expecting to be away for very long. They lived at a friend's estate and in September 1918 moved to Livadiya; Nabokov's father was a minister of justice of the Crimean provisional government. After the withdrawal of the German Army (November 1918) and the defeat of the White Army in early 1919, the Nabokovs left for exile in western Europe. On 2 April 1919, the family left Sevastopol on the last ship. They settled briefly in England, where Vladimir enrolled in Trinity College, Cambridge, and studied Slavic and Romance languages. He later drew on his Cambridge experiences to write the novel  Glory. In 1920, his family moved to Berlin, where his father set up the émigré newspaper Rul' (Rudder). Nabokov would follow to Berlin after his studies at Cambridge two years later.

The Rozhdestveno mansion
Berlin years (1922–1937)
In March 1922, Nabokov's father was assassinated in Berlin by Russian monarchistsas he was fighting to protect their real target, Pavel Milyukov, a leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party-in-exile. This mistaken, violent death would echo again and again in Nabokov's fiction, where characters would meet their deaths under mistaken terms. (In Pale Fire, for example, one interpretation of the novel has an assassin mistakenly kill the poet John Shade, when his actual target is a fugitive European monarch.) Shortly after his father's death, Nabokov's mother and sister moved to Prague.
Nabokov stayed in Berlin, where he had become a recognised poet and writer within the émigré community and published under the pen name V. Sirin. To supplement his scant writing income, he taught languages and gave tennis and boxing lessons. Of his fifteen Berlin years, Dieter E. Zimmer wrote: "He never became fond of Berlin, and at the end intensely disliked it. He lived within the lively Russian community of Berlin that was more or less self-sufficient, staying on after it had disintegrated because he had nowhere else to go to. He knew little German. He knew few Germans except for landladies, shopkeepers, the petty immigration officials at the police headquarters."
 In 1922 Nabokov became engaged to Svetlana Siewert; the engagement was broken off by her family in early 1923 because he had no steady job. In May 1923 he met a Jewish-Russian woman, Véra Evseyevna Slonim, at a charity ball in Berlin and married her in April 1925. Their only child, Dmitri, was born in 1934.
In 1936, Véra lost her job because of the increasingly anti-Semitic environment; also in that year the assassin of Nabokov's father was appointed second-in-command of the Russian émigré group. In the same year Nabokov began seeking a job in the English-speaking world. In 1937 he left Germany for France, where he had a short affair with Russian émigrée Irina Guadanini; his family followed, making their last visit to Prague en route. They settled in Paris, but also spent time in Cannes, Menton, Cap d’Antibes, and Frejus. In May 1940 the Nabokov family fled from the advancing German troops to the United States on board the SS Champlain.

The Nabokovs settled in Manhattan and Vladimir started a job at the American Moseum of Natural History. In October he met Edmund Wilson, who became his close friend (until their falling out two decades later) and introduced Nabokov's work to American editors.
Nabokov went to Wellesley College in 1941 as resident lecturer in comparative literature. The position, created specifically for him, provided an income and free time to write creatively and pursue his lepidoptery. Nabokov is remembered as the founder of Wellesley's Russian Department. His lecture series on major nineteenth-century Russian writers was hailed as "funny", "learned", and "brilliantly satirical." The Nabokovs resided in Wellesley, Massachusetts during the 1941–42 academic year. In September 1942 they moved to Cambrige where they lived until June 1948. Following a lecture tour through the United States, Nabokov returned to Wellesley for the 1944–45 academic year as a lecturer in Russian. In 1945, he became a naturalised citizen of the United States. He served through the 1947–48 term as Wellesley's one-man Russian Department, offering courses in Russian language and literature. His classes were popular, due as much to his unique teaching style as to the wartime interest in all things Russian. At the same time he was the de facto curator of lepidoptery at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. After being encouraged by Morris Bishop, Nabokov left Wellesley in 1948 to teach Russian and European literature at Cornell University.

Cover of the first edition (Olympia Press, Paris, 1955)
Nabokov wrote Lolita while travelling on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States that he undertook every summer. (Nabokov never learned to drive, type, fold an umbrella, or answer the telephone. Véra acted as "secretary, typist, editor, proofreader, translator and bibliographer; his agent, business manager, legal counsel and chauffeur; his research assistant, teaching assistant and professorial understudy"; when Nabokov attempted to burn unfinished drafts of Lolita, it was Véra who stopped him. He called her the best-humoured woman he had ever known.) In June 1953 he and his family went to Ashlang, Oregon,  renting a house on Meade Street from Professor Taylor, head of the Southern Oregon College Department of Social Science. There he finished Lolita and began writing the novel Pnin. He roamed the nearby mountains looking for butterflies, and wrote a poem called Lines Written in Oregon. On 1 October 1953, he and his family left for Ithaca, New York.

After the great financial success of Lolita, Nabokov was able to return to Europe and devote himself exclusively to writing. His son had obtained a position as an operatic bass at  Reggio Emilia. On 1 October 1961, he and Véra moved to the Montreux Palace Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland; he stayed there until the end of his life. From his sixth-floor quarters he conducted his business and took tours to the Alps, Corsica, and Sicily to hunt butterflies. In 1976 he was hospitalised with an undiagnosed fever. He was rehospitalised in Lausanne in 1977 suffering from severe bronchial congestion. He died on 2 July in Montreux surrounded by his family and, according to his son, Dmitri, "with a triple moan of descending pitch". His remains were cremated and are buried at the Clarens cemetery in Montreux.

The grave of Nabokov at Cimetière de Clarens, Switzerland
         At the time of his death, he was working on a novel titled The Original of Laura. His wife Véra and son Dmitri were entrusted with Nabokov's literary executorship, and though he asked them to burn the manuscript, they chose not to destroy his final work. The incomplete manuscript, around 125 handwritten index cards, remained in a Swiss bank vault where only two people, Dmitri Nabokov and an unknown person, had access. Portions of the manuscript were shown to Nabokov scholars. In April, 2008, Dmitri announced that he would publish the novel. The Original of Laura was published on 17 November 2009.
Prior to the incomplete novel's publication, several short excerpts of The Original of Laura were made public, most recently by German weekly Die Zeit, which in its 14 August 2008 issue for the first time reproduced some of Nabokov's original index cards obtained by its reporter Malte Herwig. In the accompanying article, Herwig concludes that "Laura", although fragmentary, is "vintage Nabokov".
In July 2009, Playboy magazine acquired the rights to print a 5,000 word excerpt from "The Original of Laura." It was printed in the December issue.

Monument of Vladimir Nabokov in Montreux

Nabokov's first writings were in Russian, but he came to his greatest distinction in the English language. For this achievement, he has been compared with Joseph Conrad; yet Nabokov viewed this as a dubious comparison, as Conrad composed in French and English. Nabokov disdained the comparison for aesthetic reasons, lamenting to the critic Edmund Wilson, "I am too old to change Conradically" – which John Updike later called, "itself a jest of genius." Nabokov translated many of his own early works into English, sometimes in cooperation with his son Dmitri. His trilingual upbringing had a profound influence on his artistry. He has metaphorically described the transition from one language to another as the slow journey at night from one village to the next with only a candle for illumination. Nabokov himself translated into Russian two books that he had originally written in English, Conclusive Evidence and Lolita. The first "translation" was made because of Nabokov's feeling of imperfection in the English version. Writing the book, he noted that he needed to translate his own memories into English, and to spend a lot of time explaining things which are well-known in Russia; then he decided to re-write the book once again, in his first native language, and after that he made the final version, Speak, Memory (Nabokov first wanted to name it "Speak, Mnemosyne"). Nabokov was a proponent of individualism, and rejected concepts and ideologies that curtailed individual freedom and expression, such as totalitarianism in its various forms as well as Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. Poshlost, or as he transcribed it, poshlust, is disdained and frequently mocked in his works.
Nabokov published under the pseudonym "Vladimir Sirin" in the 1920s to 1940s, occasionally to mask his identity from critics. He also makes cameo appearances in some of his novels, such as the character "Vivian Darkbloom" (an anagram of "Vladimir Nabokov"), who appears in both Lolita and Ada, or Ardor.

Nabokov is noted for his complex plots, clever word play, and use of  alliteration. He gained both fame and notoriety with his novel Lolita (1955), which tells of a grown man's devouring passion for a twelve-year-old girl. This and his other novels, particularly Pale Fire (1962), won him a place among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. His longest novel, which met with a mixed response, is Ada (1969). He devoted more time to the composition of this novel than any of his others. Nabokov's fiction is characterised by its linguistic playfulness. For example, his short story “The Vane Sisters” is famous in part for its acrostic final paragraph, in which the first letters of each word spell out a message from beyond the grave.

Nabokov's stature as a literary critic is founded largely on his four-volume translation of and commentary on Alexander Pushkin’s epic of the Russian soul, Eugene Onegin, published in 1964. That commentary ended with an appendix titled  Notes on Prosody which has developed a reputation of its own. It stemmed from his observation that while Pushkin's iambic tetrameters had been a part of Russian literature for a fairly short two centuries, they were clearly understood by the Russian prosodists. On the other hand, he viewed the much older English iambic tetrameters as muddled and poorly documented. In his own words:

I have been forced to invent a simple little terminology of my own, explain its application to English verse forms, and indulge in certain rather copious details of classification before even tackling the limited object of these notes to my translation of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, an object that boils down to very little—in comparison to the forced preliminaries – namely, to a few things that the non-Russian student of Russian literature must know in regard to Russian prosody in general and to Eugene Onegin in particular.

Nabokov's translation was the focus of bitter polemics by  Edmund Wilson and others; he had rendered the very precisely metered and rhyming novel in verse to (by his own admission) stumbling, non-rhymed prose.[ He argued that all verse translations of Onegin fatally betrayed the author's use of language; critics replied that failure to make the translation as beautifully styled as the original was a much greater betrayal.
Nabokov's Lectures on Literature at Cornell University where he was appointed an instructor in 1948, reveals his controversial ideas concerning art. He firmly believed that novels should not aim to teach and that readers should not merely empathise with characters but that a 'higher' aesthetic enjoyment should be attained, partly by paying great attention to details of style and structure. He detested what he saw as 'general ideas' in novels, and so when teaching Ulysses, for example, he would insist students keep an eye on where the characters were in Dublin (with the aid of a map) rather than teaching the complex Irish history that many critics see as being essential to an understanding of the novel. During his ten years at Cornell, Nabokov introduced undergraduates to the delights of great fiction, including Bleak House by Charles Dickens, in fifty-minute classroom lectures. Not until glasnot did Nabokov's work become officially available in his native country. Mikhail Gorbachev authorised a five-volume edition of his writing in 1988.
In 2010, Kitsch Magazine, a student publication at Cornell, published a piece that focused on student reflections on these lectures and also explored Nabokov's long relationship with Playboy Magazine.
         Nabokov's detractors fault him for being an aesthete and for his over-attention to language and detail rather than character development. In his essay "Nabokov, or Nostalgia", Danilo Kiš wrote wrote that Nabokov's is "a magnificent, complex, and sterile art." Russian poet Yvevgeny Yevtushenko said in a Playboy interview that he could hear the clatter of surgical tools in Nabokov's prose.

Nabokov's synesthesia
Nabokov was a self-described synesthete, who at a young age equated the number five with the color red. Aspects of synesthesia can be found in several of his works. In his memoir Speak, Memory, he notes that his wife also exhibited synesthesia; like her husband, her mind's eye associated colours with particular letters. They discovered that Dmitri shared the trait, and moreover that the colours he associated with some letters were in some cases blends of his parents' hues—"which is as if genes were painting in aquarelle".
For some synesthetes, letters are not simply associated with certain colours, they are themselves coloured. Nabokov frequently endowed his protagonists with a similar gift. In Bemd Sinister Krug comments on his perception of the word "loyalty" as being like a golden fork lying out in the sun. In The Defense, Nabokov mentioned briefly how the main character's father, a writer, found he was unable to complete a novel that he planned to write, becoming lost in the fabricated storyline by "starting with colours." Many other subtle references are made in Nabokov's writing that can be traced back to his synesthesia. Many of his characters have a distinct "sensory appetite" reminiscent of synesthesia.

Echinargus in the family Lycaenidae: one of the many genera discovered and named by Nabokov. His career as an entomologist was equally distinguished. His interest in this field had been inspired by books of Maria Sibylla Merian he had found in the attic of his family's country home in Vyra. Throughout an extensive career of collecting he never learned to drive a car, and he depended on his wife Véra to take him to collecting sites. During the 1940s, as a research fellow in zoology, he was responsible for organizing the butterfly collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. His writings in this area were highly technical. This, combined with his specialty in the relatively unspectacular tribe Polymmatini of the family Lycaenidae, has left this facet of his life little explored by most admirers of his literary works. He described the Karner Blue. The genus Nabokovia genus was named after him in honor of this work, as were a number of butterfly and moth species (e.g. many of the genera Madeleinea and Pseudolucia). In 1967, Nabokov commented: "The pleasures and rewards of literary inspiration are nothing beside the rapture of discovering a new organ under the microscope or an undescribed species on a mountainside in Iran or Peru. It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all.
         The palaeontologist and essayist Stephen Jay Gould discussed Nabokov's lepidoptery in his essay, "No Science Without Fancy, No Art Without Facts: The Lepidoptery of Vladimir Nabokov" (reprinted in I Have Landed). Gould notes that Nabokov was occasionally a scientific "stick-in-the-mud". For example, Nabokov never accepted that genetics or the counting of chromosomes could be a valid way to distinguish species of insects, and relied on the traditional (for lepidopterists) microscopic comparison of their genitalia.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History, which now contains the Museum of Comparative Zoology, still possesses Nabokov's "genitalia cabinet", where the author stored his collection of male blue butterfly genitalia. "Nabokov was a serious taxonomist," according to the museum staff writer Nancy Pick, author of The Rarest of the Rare: Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. "He actually did quite a good job at distinguishing species that you would not think were different—by looking at their genitalia under a microscope six hours a day, seven days a week, until his eyesight was permanently impaired."
         Though his work was not taken seriously by professional lepidopterists during his life, new genetic research supports Nabokov's hypothesis that a group of butterfly species, called the Polyommatus blues, came to the New World over the Bering Strait in five waves, eventually reaching Chile.
Many of Nabokov's fans have tried to ascribe literary value to his scientific papers, Gould notes. Conversely, others have claimed that his scientific work enriched his literary output. Gould advocates a third view, holding that the other two positions are examples of the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. Rather than assuming that either side of Nabokov's work caused or stimulated the other, Gould proposes that both stemmed from Nabokov's love of detail, contemplation and symmetry.

Chess problems
Nabokov spent considerable time during his exile on the composition of chess problems. Such compositions he published in the Russian émigré press, Poems and Problems (18 chess compositions) and Speak, Memory (one problem). He describes the process of composing and constructing in his memoir: "The strain on the mind is formidable; the element of time drops out of one's consciousness..." To him, the "originality, invention, conciseness, harmony, complexity, and splendid insincerity" of creating a chess problem was similar to that in any other art.

Nabokov described himself as a classical liberal, in the tradition of his father. Throughout his life he was profoundly opposed to all forms of socialism and fascism. In a poem he wrote in 1917, he described the Bolshevik revolutionaries as "grey rag-tag people". Later, during his American period, he expressed contempt for student activism, and all collective movements. In both letters and interviews, he shows a profound contempt for the left-wing protest movements of the 1960s, describing the protestors as "conformists" and "goofy hoodlums".

The critic James Wood argued that Nabokov's use of descriptive detail proved an "overpowering, and not always very fruitful, influence on two or three generations after him", including authors such as Martin Amis and John Updike. While a student at Cornell in the 1950s, Thomas Pynchon attended several of Nabokov's lecturesand went on to make a direct allusion to Lolita in chapter six of his novel The Crying of Lot 49 (1966) in which Serge, counter-tenor in the band The Paranoids, sings:

What chance has a lonely surfer boy
For the love of a surfer chick,
With all these Humbert Humbert cats
Coming on so big and sick?
For me, my baby was a woman,
For him she's just another nymphet.

It has also been argued that Pynchon's prose style is influenced by Nabokov's preference for actualism over realism. Of the authors who came to prominence during Nabokov's lifetime, John Banville, Don Delillo, Salman Rushdie and Edmund White were all influenced by Nabokov.
Several authors who came to prominence in the 1990s and 2000s have also cited Nabokov's work as a literary influence. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael listed Lolita and Pale Fire among the "books that, I thought, changed my life when I read them," and stated that "Nabokov's English combines aching lyricism with dispassionate precision in a way that seems to render every human emotion in all its intensity but never with an ounce of schmaltz or soggy language". Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides said that "Nabokov has always been and remains one of my favorite writers. He's able to juggle ten balls where most people can juggle three or four." T. Coraghessan Boyle said that "Nabokov's playfulness and the ravishing beauty of his prose are ongoing influences" on his writing, and Jhumpa Lahiri, Marisha Pessl, Maxin D. Shrayer, Zadie Smith and Ki Longfellow have also acknowledged Nabokov's influence. Nabokov is featured both as an individual character and implicitly in W.G. Sebal’s 1993 novel The Emigrants.


miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2015

Mayra Veronica

Mayra Verónica

Mayra Verónica (born Mayra Verónica Aruca Rodríguez August 20, 1980) is an American model and singer most famous for appearances on Spanish-language television. Verónica’s role on Univision’s Don Francisco Presenta brought her to the attention of FHM magazine’s US edition.
mayraMayra Verónica was born in Havana, Cuba, where her father was a member of Cuba’s big band, Los Dada. In 1984, she came to the US with her mother, Mayra Rodriguez, leaving behind the rest of her family including her father, Arturo Aruca, and sister Giselle Guzman. Her father came a year later and reunited with Veronica and her mother, while her sister was unable to meet them until thirteen years later. Mayra grew up with little money and food was sometimes scarce.

A gifted student, Verónica made her way through ballet school by befriending other girls (other students from her school who could afford the training), while surviving difficult financial circumstances at home. Her body began maturing during her middle school years, causing her to no longer be able to do ballet. Her first boyfriend, at the age of 15, was an artist of the same age who often painted her nude or semi-nude.
Pageants and modeling.
She began as a correspondent, but was promoted to celebrity hostess for the show. She interviewed celebrities like Donald Trump, Oscar de la Renta, Hugh Hefner, and Dennis Rodman. Throughout, Verónica traveled to New York to continue acting training at the Lee Strasberg Institute to fine tune her craft, until the station (owned by Media One) was bought by AT&T Corporation and subsequently closed.
Cover girl.
FHM, the top men’s magazine of the time, contacted Veronica’s publicist to ask for a feature spread on their magazine. Veronica agreed and after mail requesting her return, she went on to appear on the cover of the FHM exclusive collection book, which included top sex symbols of the decade such as Pamela Anderson, Eva Longoria, and Carmen Electra. From 2004-2010 Mayra Verónica made FHM’s “Sexiest Women In The World” list 6 years in a row.
Music.’Vengo Con To’.
Europe did not seem to mind and Mayra signed a deal with a German label for the European release of the album. The album’s popularity landed Verónica a deal with Universal Motown, which put out a second single from the album titled “Mamma Mia” which also did very well on radio.
A third single, “Es Tan Dificil Olvidarte”, dedicated to the fallen troops, put Verónica in the top 10 on the pop contemporary charts. Verónica continued her work with the troops by visiting the wounded at camp Lejeune.
Ultra Music.
“Mama Mia” is the most recent chart success for Mayra Veronica. The Cuban-American singer/songwriter, who presently holds an exclusive worldwide publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis, first gained chart notoriety with “If You Wanna Fly”, which penetrated five different Billboard charts, including the coveted, Billboard Digital Sales Chart. Her second single, “Freak Like Me” earned her a number three position on the Billboard Dance Chart, and garnered slots on numerous international Billboard charts. The new video for “Mama Mia” is set to be launched on January 30 on Ultra Music’s YouTube Channel.

Following this, The “Mama Mia” (Remixes) EP, which showcases versions orchestrated by Dave Aude, Chocolate Puma, Robbie Rivera, Sick Individuals, Genairo Nvilla and Razor N’ Guido. Mayra Veronica will kick off a world tour in support of “Mama Mia” in the spring, with Soneros de Verdad and The Sons of the Buena Vista Social Club sharing the bill.
images (3)
IDMA Awards.
In 2014 Mayra Veronica’s #1 Billboard Dance song “Mama Mia” was nominated for ‘”Best Latin Dance Song of The Year” at the 29th Annual International Dance Music Awards (IDMA). In this category Mayra was up against Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Pitbull Feat. Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony,
2007: Vengo Con To’
2010: Saint Nor Sinner
2013: Mama Mia
Hot Dance Club Play Hot Dance Airplay Heatseeker Songs Dance/Electronic Digital Songs
2010 “If You Wanna Fly” 9 11 21 5 Saint Nor Sinner
2011 “Freak Like Me” 3 15 – 25
2013 “Ay Mama Mia” 1 – – –
2010 If You Wanna Fly (The Remixes)
2011 Freak Like Me (The Remixes)
2011 Freak Like Me (Manuel De La Mare Remixes & Eddie Amador Dub)
2013 Ay Mama Mia (The Remixes)
2013 Ay Mama Mia (The Remixes Dubs)
2013 Mama Mia
2013 Mama Mia (The Remixes)
The Cuban History, HOLLYWOOD.
Arnoldo Varona, Editor.
CUBA HOY/TODAY: Playas de Cuba.
CUBA HOY/TODAY: Playas de Cuba


domingo, 27 de diciembre de 2015

Eduardo Cote Lamus

By Jairo Guzmán
Translated by Carolina Mejía

Poet, diplomat and politician, Eduardo Cote Lamus was born in Cúcuta,  Colombia, did an external law degree at the University of Bogotá and studied Hispanic philology at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Together with Jorge Gaitán Durán, he made many contributions to literature and culture, placing Colombia on the contemporary world map through the journal Mito (Myth), Colombia’s first cosmopolitan literary publication. His poetic projects radiated into the field of expression and contributed to the renewal of poetic language. His five poetry books were written between 1950 and 1963, a short time span showing the intense process of his creativity; there are important transformations from his first book to his last, Estoraques, considered one of the most successful long poems in Latin American poetry.
As a writer Cote was open to the most important artistic movements of his time, and in his poetry he was influenced by the Spanish poets of the Generation of ’27. He was particularly concerned with the poet’s task of constructing a corpus of poetry. From his penultimate book, La vida cotidiana (Daily Life) (1959), onwards, and drawing on the refreshing oxygen of his stay in Europe, he introduced new elements into his work. This book marks a turn towards a more objective poetry, and introduces a more colloquial, relaxed and anecdotal style.  La vida cotidiana gives the poet wings to penetrate the most intimate and fundamental issues of human experience, and to reveal them to the reader in a fluid and conversational manner, devoid of the inscrutability of his previous book, Los sueños (The Dreams).
With La vida cotidiana a new poetic axis appears – one where writing poetry is like speaking, like naming things without any rhetorical embellishments. The poem flows like everyday speech, which enables the ordinary person to understand and be touched by it. This approach represents great progress in Colombian poetic writing, preparing the terrain of expression for future generations. It arises from the poet’s encounter with various expatriate Nicaraguan writers, with whom he shared the experience of reading the Imagists and T. S Eliot’s views on the need to regain a conversational tone in poetry. In La vida cotidiana the poet condenses, in a balanced and succinct manner, the colloquial and the conceptual. This feature makes his writing unique and is the result of his hard and intense efforts as a “word worker”, attentive to the legacy of the great Spanish-language poets and to contemporary poets writing in other languages.
With Estoraques, his final publication, Eduardo Cote Lamus achieves his fullest expression. This is the book that identifies him as a poet and has a place among the most distinctive of Colombian poetic works. Estoraques is a long poem of five hundred lines, divided into eight parts. It was published four years after La vida cotidiana, and its appearance marks a high point in poetic creation. It is a poem with many qualities, among which its precision and great sense of rhythm are outstanding. It is surprising, too, that the inspiration for this work is the estoraques: rocky formations shaped by erosion. In the words of Andrés Holguín: “Reading this song, we find ourselves facing a wider version of death, which becomes a universal phenomenon. In the ‘estoraques’, those strange natural formations between Cúcuta and Ocaña, the wind-time has petrified figures, castles and citadels similar to ancient civilizations. Symbols multiply in this intense poem. The poet confronts the tragic fate of man. The ritornello is that of time. Thus, Cote Lamus reaches his highest poetic expression, and the most cosmic vision of death.”

Albert Camus

Albert Camus

Nobel Prize in Literature 1957
(1913 - 1960)

Albert Camus (French pronunciation: [albɛʁ kamy] (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.

Camus was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times". He was the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, after Rudyard Kipling, and the first African-born writer to receive the award. He is the shortest-lived of any Nobel literature laureate to date, having died in an automobile accident just over two years after receiving the award.

"Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. 

I had a telegram from the home: 'Mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. 

Yours sincerely.' That doesn't mean anything. 

It may have happened yesterday."

Albert Camus / The Stranger

Early years

Albert Camus was born on 7 November 1913 in Dréan (then known as Mondovi) in French Algeria to a Pied-Noir settler family.[6] Pied-Noir was a term used to refer to European colonists of French Algeria until Algerian independence in 1962. His mother was of Spanish descent and was half-deaf.[7] His father Lucien, a poor agricultural worker, died in the Battle of the Marne in 1914 during World War I, while serving as a member of the Zouave infantry regiment. Camus and his mother lived in poor conditions during his childhood in the Belcourt section of Algiers.

In 1923, the bright boy was accepted into the lycée and eventually he was admitted to the University of Algiers. After he contracted tuberculosis (TB) in 1930, he had to end his football activities (he had been a goalkeeper for the university team) and reduce his studies to part-time. To earn money, he also took odd jobs: as private tutor, car parts clerk and assistant at the Meteorological Institute. He completed his licence de philosophie (BA) in 1935; in May 1936, he successfully presented his thesis on Plotinus, Néo-Platonisme et Pensée Chrétienne (Neo-Platonism and Christian Thought), for his diplôme d'études supérieures (roughly equivalent to an M.A. thesis).

Camus joined the French Communist Party in the spring of 1935, seeing it as a way to "fight inequalities between Europeans and 'natives' in Algeria." He did not suggest he was a Marxist or that he had read Das Kapital, but did write that "[w]e might see communism as a springboard and asceticism that prepares the ground for more spiritual activities." In 1936, the independence-minded Algerian Communist Party (PCA) was founded. Camus joined the activities of the Algerian People's Party (Le Parti du Peuple Algérien), which got him into trouble with his Communist party comrades. As a result, in 1937 he was denounced as a Trotskyite and expelled from the party. Camus went on to be associated with the French anarchist movement.

The anarchist Andre Prudhommeaux first introduced him at a meeting in 1948 of the Cercle des Étudiants Anarchistes (Anarchist Student Circle) as a sympathiser familiar with anarchist thought. Camus wrote for anarchist publications such as Le Libertaire, La révolution Proletarienne and Solidaridad Obrera (Workers' Solidarity, the organ of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT (National Confederation of Labor)). Camus stood with the anarchists when they expressed support for the uprising of 1953 in East Germany. He again allied with the anarchists in 1956, first in support of the workers’ uprising in Poznań, Poland, and then later in the year with the Hungarian Revolution.

In 1934, he married Simone Hie, a morphine addict, but the marriage ended as a consequence of infidelities on both sides. In 1935, he founded Théâtre du Travail (Worker's Theatre), renamed Théâtre de l'Equipe (Team's Theatre) in 1937. It lasted until 1939. From 1937 to 1939 he wrote for a socialist paper, Alger-Républicain. His work included an account of the peasants who lived in Kabylie in poor conditions, which apparently cost him his job. From 1939 to 1940, he briefly wrote for a similar paper, Soir-Republicain. He was rejected by the French army because of his TB.

In 1940, Camus married Francine Faure, a pianist and mathematician. Although he loved her, he had argued passionately against the institution of marriage, dismissing it as unnatural. Even after Francine gave birth to twins, Catherine and Jean, on 5 September 1945, he continued to joke to friends that he was not cut out for marriage. Camus conducted numerous affairs, particularly an irregular and eventually public affair with the Spanish-born actress Maria Casares. In the same year, Camus began to work for Paris-Soir magazine. In the first stage of World War II, the so-called Phoney War, Camus was a pacifist. In Paris during the Wehrmacht occupation, on 15 December 1941, Camus witnessed the execution of Gabriel Péri; it crystallized his revolt against the Germans. He moved to Bordeaux with the rest of the staff of Paris-Soir. In the same year he finished his first books, The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus. He returned briefly to Oran, Algeria in 1942.

Literary career

During the war Camus joined the French Resistance cell Combat, which published an underground newspaper of the same name. This group worked against the Nazis, and in it Camus assumed the nom de guerre Beauchard. Camus became the paper's editor in 1943 and was in Paris when the Allies liberated the city, where he reported on the last of the fighting. Soon after the event on 6 August 1945, he was one of the few French editors to publicly express opposition to the United States' dropping the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. He resigned from Combat in 1947 when it became a commercial paper. It was then that he became acquainted with Jean-Paul Sartre.

After the war, Camus began frequenting the Café de Flore on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris with Sartre and others. He also toured the United States to lecture about French thought. Although he leaned left, politically, his strong criticisms of Communist doctrine did not win him any friends in the Communist parties and eventually alienated Sartre.

In 1949 his TB returned and Camus lived in seclusion for two years. In 1951 he published The Rebel, a philosophical analysis of rebellion and revolution which expressed his rejection of communism. Upsetting many of his colleagues and contemporaries in France, the book brought about the final split with Sartre. The dour reception depressed him and he began to translate plays.

Camus's first significant contribution to philosophy was his idea of the absurd. He saw it as the result of our desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither, which he expressed in The Myth of Sisyphus and incorporated into many of his other works, such as The Stranger and The Plague. Despite his split from his "study partner", Sartre, some still argue that Camus falls into the existentialist camp. He specifically rejected that label in his essay "Enigma" and elsewhere (see: The Lyrical and Critical Essays of Albert Camus). The current confusion arises in part because many recent applications of existentialism have much in common with many of Camus's practical ideas (see: Resistance, Rebellion, and Death). But, his personal understanding of the world (e.g. "a benign indifference", in The Stranger), and every vision he had for its progress (e.g. vanquishing the "adolescent furies" of history and society, in The Rebel) undoubtedly set him apart.

In the 1950s Camus devoted his efforts to human rights. In 1952 he resigned from his work for UNESCO when the UN accepted Spain as a member under the leadership of General Franco. In 1953 he criticized Soviet methods to crush a workers' strike in East Berlin. In 1956 he protested against similar methods in Poland (protests in Poznań) and the Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolution in October.

Camus maintained his pacifism and resisted capital punishment anywhere in the world. He wrote an essay against capital punishment in collaboration with Arthur Koestler, the writer, intellectual and founder of the League Against Capital Punishment.

When the Algerian War began in 1954, Camus was confronted with a moral dilemma. He identified with the pied-noirs such as his own parents and defended the French government's actions against the revolt. He argued that the Algerian uprising was an integral part of the 'new Arab imperialism' led by Egypt and an 'anti-Western' offensive orchestrated by Russia to 'encircle Europe' and 'isolate the United States'.[9] Although favouring greater Algerian autonomy or even federation, though not full-scale independence, he believed that the pied-noirs and Arabs could co-exist. During the war he advocated a civil truce that would spare the civilians, which was rejected by both sides, who regarded it as foolish. Behind the scenes, he began to work for imprisoned Algerians who faced the death penalty.

From 1955 to 1956, Camus wrote for L'Express. In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times", not for his novel The Fall, published the previous year, but for his writings against capital punishment in the essay "Réflexions sur la Guillotine" (Reflections on the Guillotine). When he spoke to students at the University of Stockholm, he defended his apparent inactivity in the Algerian question; he stated that he was worried about what might happen to his mother, who still lived in Algeria. This led to further ostracism by French left-wing intellectuals.


Camus died on 4 January 1960 at the age of 46 in a car accident near Sens, in Le Grand Fossard in the small town of Villeblevin. In his coat pocket lay an unused train ticket. He had planned to travel by train with his wife and children, but at the last minute he accepted his publisher's proposal to travel with him.

The driver of the Facel Vega car, Michel Gallimard, his publisher and close friend, also died in the accident. In August 2011, the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera reported a theory that the writer had been the victim of a Soviet plot, but Camus biographer Olivier Todd did not consider it credible. Camus was buried in the Lourmarin Cemetery, Lourmarin, Vaucluse, France.

He was survived by his wife and twin children, Catherine and Jean, who hold the copyrights to his work.

Two of Camus's works were published posthumously. The first, entitled A Happy Death (1970), featured a character named Patrice Mersault, comparable to The Stranger's Meursault. There is scholarly debate as to the relationship between the two books. The second was an unfinished novel, The First Man (1995), which Camus was writing before he died. The novel was an autobiographical work about his childhood in Algeria.

Camus and his women

Apart from his books, Albert Camus also liked writing love letters: he was an obsessive womaniser whose constant affairs drove his second wife to mental breakdown. Olivier Todd's new biography reveals all, says Peter Lennon

When Olivier Todd once asked Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus' old Saint Germain des Pres intellectual sparring partner, which of Camus' books he liked best he said: 'The Fall, because Camus has hidden himself in it.'

With the publication of his massive biography, Albert Camus: A life, Todd does some serious unveiling of the Algiers slum kid who, at 43, became the second youngest Nobel Prize winner in history. Letters never before published reveal him as an obsessive womaniser.

The Fall (1956) is the confession of a celebrated Parisian lawyer brought to crisis when he fails to come to the aid of a drowning woman. The 'drowning woman' was Camus' second wife, Francine, who had a mental breakdown. As mother of his two children, Camus decided it would be more appropriate if her relationship with him was that of 'a sister', allowing him erotic freedom. For years she appeared to go along with this but then she cracked. Todd says that Francine said to her husband: 'You owed me that book,' and Camus had agreed.

The revelations in Todd's biography of Camus' womanising could hardly have come as a surprise to those who had read Camus' early non-fiction. His reflections on Don Juanism in The Myth Of Sisyphus, written when he was 28, read like both a confession and a declaration of future policy: 'It is because he (Don Juan) loves them with the same passion and each time with his whole self that he must repeat his gift and his profound quest,' Camus wrote.

'Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much?' he asked. And: 'What Don Juan realises in action is an ethic of quantity, whereas the saint, on the contrary, tends towards quality.'

He carried the philosophy further, claiming that a mother or an uxorious wife necessarily had 'an enclosed heart' because it is 'turned away from the world' to fasten on one object. But Don Juan's love was liberating.

In December 1959, Camus' womanising reached its apotheosis. On the 29th, he wrote to his mistress announcing that he would shortly be returning to Paris from Lourmarin, where he had spent the summer with his wife and children: 'This frightful separation will at least have made us feel more than ever the constant need we have for each other.' On the next day he wrote: 'Just to let you know I am arriving on Tuesday by car. I am so happy at the idea of seeing you again that I am laughing as I write.' A day later, he wrote: 'See you Tuesday, my dear, I'm kissing you already and bless you from the bottom of my heart.' There was yet another letter setting up a date in New York.

Apart from the unremitting ardour, there was one thing remarkable about these letters: they were all to different women. The first was to Mi, a young painter; the second to Catherine Sellers, an actress; the third to Maria Casares, an internationally famous actress with whom he had a liaison for 16 years; and the fourth was to an American, Patricia Blake.

When, over a period of five years, Olivier Todd got access to all of these letters, he faced a dilemma. Copyright of all Camus' letters is invested in his literary executor - his daughter, Catherine. 'It is one thing for children to know their father was a womaniser,' Todd says, 'but quite another to show them proof.'

There was one letter written, to an 'Yvonne' with whom he was having a passionate affair, on the eve of his marriage: 'I'm probably going to waste my life,' he wrote. 'I mean I am going to marry F' 'That was Catherine's mother,' says Todd. But Catherine Camus raised no objections.

Mi, who received the first of those December letters, was a young painter of Danish extraction. Camus met her in the traditional way, picking her up at the Cafe Flore in Saint Germain des Pres in 1957. She was one of the rare females with whom he shared his other passion - football.

Told that she had disappeared from circulation, Todd used a very unjournalistic device: he looked her up in the equivalent of the phone book, the Minitel. She had married, had a daughter and divorced. She will still only be identified as Mi.

Camus had met Maria Casares, later star of Cocteau's Orpheus but already an established actress, in 1944. Daughter of a rich Spanish Republican, a refugee from Franco, she was a passionate, wilful, intelligent woman. She was probably the only one of his lovers who had a relationship of equality with him. In addition, Todd says, 'If he was a Don Juan, she was a Don Juana'.

Casares, who died recently, wrote an autobiography in which she was candid about her celebrated relationship with Camus, but with a curious high-mindedness never quoted directly from his hundreds of letters.

And then there was the avant-garde actress and theatre director, Catherine Sellers. In James Kent's Bookmark biography of Camus, based on Todd's book and shown on BBC2, we saw an actor playing a scene from The Fall. The actor is Sellers' husband. So Camus' former lover had her husband play the part of the hero of The Fall who was of course a version of Camus.

The New York letter was to Patricia Blake, whom Camus had met when he visited the US in 1946. She was then 20 and a copywriter for Vogue. She became his guide to the city, initially impressed by the gentlemanly distance at which he held his partners during the foxtrot. She was having lunch with him in Paris in 1957 when he received the news that he had won the Nobel Prize. He confessed to her that he felt suffocated.

With good reason. The Nobel committee, indulging their usual political meddling, gave the prize to a 'Frenchman of Algeria' at a high point in the Algerian war. Camus felt he could not turn it down. He was instantly derided by most of the Parisian intellectual elite. (Later, in the sixties, Sartre was to refuse it).

Camus kept none of these planned rendezvous. Driving back to Paris with his publisher and friend Michel Gallimard, their car hit a tree and he was killed instantly. He was 46.

Far from being a Parisian intellectual with little conscience about his affairs, Camus' relationships were important to him. 'He had a much more healthy relationship with women than Sartre,' Todd says. 'His relationships were quite moving'.

Camus was no Parisian sophisticate. He was a working-class pied-noir (born in Algeria but of European origin). His father died of war wounds when he was an infant; his mother was a charlady with no talent for communication, emotional or intellectual. In addition, something overlooked because of his colossal energies, he was chronically tubercular and must have had a perpetually feverish will to live. He also had a brief, early and disastrous marriage in 1934 to a drug addict, Simone Hei.

It is not hard to detect profound emotional deprivation in that background, of the kind projected in The Outsider (1942) in which the hero does not seem to be able to see the point of love and shoots an Arab without knowing why. But you cannot convincingly attach a lugubrious alibi to a personality of such rigorous honesty as Camus: the communist who, unlike Sartre, condemned Stalin's labour camps when their existence was revealed; and the consumptive journalist who worked in occupied Paris for the clandestine paper, Combat, while the upper-class spokesman for communism, Sartre, led an unmolested life of intellectual and material ease.

'It is an error,' Camus wrote, 'to make Don Juan an immoralist: in this respect he is like everyone else. He has the moral code of his sympathies and his antipathies'.


For further reading 

A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning by Robert Zaretsky (2013); C amus & Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel That Ended It by Ronald Aronson (2004); Albert Camus in New York by Herbert R. Lottman(1997); Albert Camus: A Life by Oliver Todd (1997); Camus' "L'Étranger": Fifty Years On, ed. by Adele King (1992; Albert Camus by P.H. Rhein (1989);Camus: A Critical Study of His Life and Work by P. McCarthy (1982); The Theater of Albert Camus by E. Freeman (1971); The Sea and the Prison by R. Quillot (1970); A Pagan Hero: An Interpretation of Mersault in Camus' "The Stranger" by Robert Champigny (1969); Albert Camus: The Artist in the Arena by E. Parker (1965); Albert Camus, 1913-1969: A Biographical Study by P. Thody (1961)


* The Stranger (L'Étranger, often translated as The Outsider) (1942) 
* The Plague (La Peste) (1947) 
* The Fall (La Chute) (1956) 
* A Happy Death (La Mort heureuse) (written 1936–1938, published posthumously 1971) 
* The First Man (Le premier homme) (incomplete, published posthumously 1995)

Short stories
* Exile and the Kingdom (L'exil et le royaume) (collection) (1957) 
"The Adulterous Woman" ("La Femme adultère")  
"The Renegade or a Confused Spirit" ("Le Renégat ou un esprit confus") 
"The Silent Men" ("Les Muets") 
"The Guest" ("L'Hôte") 
"Jonas or the Artist at Work" ("Jonas ou l’artiste au travail") 
"The Growing Stone" ("La Pierre qui pousse")

Non-fiction books
* Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism (1935) 
* Betwixt and Between (L'envers et l'endroit, also translated as The Wrong Side and the Right Side) (Collection, 1937) * Nuptials (Noces) (1938) 
* The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe) (1942) 
* The Rebel (L'Homme révolté) (1951) 
* Notebooks 1935–1942 (Carnets, mai 1935 — fevrier 1942) (1962) 
* Notebooks 1943–1951 (1965) * Notebooks 1951–1959 (2008) Published as "Carnets Tome III : Mars 1951 – December 1959" (1989)

* Caligula (performed 1945, written 1938) 
* Requiem for a Nun (Requiem pour une nonne, adapted from William Faulkner's novel by the same name) (1956) 
* The Misunderstanding (Le Malentendu) (1944) 
* The State of Siege (L' Etat de Siege) (1948) 
* The Just Assassins (Les Justes) (1949) 
* The Possessed (Les Possédés, adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel by the same name) (1959)

* Create Dangerously (Essay on Realism and Artistic Creation) (1957) 
* The Ancient Greek Tragedy (Parnassos lecture in Greece) (1956) 
* The Crisis of Man (Lecture at Columbia University) (1946) 
* Why Spain? (Essay for the theatrical play L' Etat de Siege) (1948) 
* Reflections on the Guillotine (Réflexions sur la guillotine) (Extended essay, 1957) 
* Neither Victims Nor Executioners (Combat) (1946)

Collected essays
* Resistance, Rebellion, and Death (1961) – a collection of essays selected by the author. 
* Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970) 
* Youthful Writings (1976) 
* Between Hell and Reason: Essays from the Resistance Newspaper "Combat", 1944–1947 (1991) 
* Camus at "Combat": Writing 1944–1947 (2005)

For More Information
Lottman, Herbert R. Albert Camus: A Biography. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979.
Todd, Olivier. Albert Camus: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.