Fernando Arrabal  

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Fernando Arrabal Terán (born August 11, 1932) is a Spanish playwright, screenwriter, film director, novelist and poet. Arrabal was born in Melilla, Spain. He settled in France in 1955. He founded the Panic Movement with Roland Topor and Alejandro Jodorowsky in 1962. He is well-known for his 1970 cult film Viva la Muerte.

Overview

Arrabal has directed seven full-length feature films; he has published over 100 plays, 14 novels, 800 poetry collections, chapbooks, and artist’s books; several essays, and his notorious “Letter to General Franco” during the dictator’s lifetime. His complete plays have been published in a number of languages, in a two-volume edition totaling over two thousand pages. The New York Times theatre critic Mel Gussow has called Arrabal the last survivor among the “three avatars of modernism.”

In 1962 Arrabal co-founded the Panic Movement with Alejandro Jodorowsky and Roland Topor, inspired by the god Pan, and was elected Transcendent Satrap of the Collège de Pataphysique in 1990. Forty other Transcendent Satraps have been elected over the past half-century, including Marcel Duchamp, Eugène Ionesco, Man Ray, Boris Vian, Dario Fo, Umberto Eco and Jean Baudrillard.

A friend of Andy Warhol and Tristan Tzara, Arrabal spent three years as a member of André Breton’s surrealist group.

‘’Arrabal’s theatre is a wild, brutal, cacophonous, and joyously provocative world. It is a dramatic carnival in which the carcass of our “advanced” civilizations is barbecued over the spits of a permanent revolution. He is the artistic heir of Kafka’s lucidity and Jarry’s humor; in his violence, Arrabal is related to Sade and Artaud. Yet he is doubtless the only writer to have pushed derision as far as he did. Deeply political and merrily playful, both revolutionary and bohemian, his work is the syndrome of our century of barbed wire and Gulags, a manner of finding a reprieve.’’
The Dictionary of Literatures in the French Language (Dictionnaire des littératures de langue française; Éditions Bordas.)


Life

He learned to read and write in the city of Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca, Spain, where at the age of ten he was awarded a National Prize for “Gifted Children.” He went to university in Madrid.

His father, an army officer, was sentenced to death at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War for being opposed to the right-wing military coup led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco. His sentence was commuted to hard labor for life. He was transferred to different jails, escaped from the last one on November 4, 1941 and vanished forever. In his childhood, Arrabal suffered from his father’s mysterious disappearance. Because of this trauma, as the Nobel Prize-winning poet Vicente Aleixandre (1898-1984) wrote, ‘’The knowledge which Arrabal conveys is tinged with a moral light which is innate in the very substance of his artistry.’’

Work

Arrabal has directed seven full-length feature films. He has published over one-hundred plays, fourteen novels, seven poetry collections, many essays, and his celebrated “Letter to General Franco” during the dictator’s lifetime. His complete plays have been published in a number of languages, in France by Les Éditions Christian Bourgois and Actes Sud; in Spain the complete plays have appeared in two volumes, a total of over two thousand pages, in the series Colección Clásicos Castellanos of Editorial Espasa Calpe.

In 1962 Fernando Arrabal founded the Panic Movement with Roland Topor and Alejandro Jodorowsky, inspired by the God Pan.

‘’Arrabal’s theatre is a wild, brutal, cacophonous, and joyously provocative world. It is a dramatic carnival in which the carcass of our “advanced” civilizations is barbecued over the spits of a permanent revolution. He is the artistic heir of Kafka’s lucidity and Jarry’s humor; in his violence, Arrabal is related to Sade and Artaud. Yet he is doubtless the only writer to have pushed derision as far as he did. Deeply political and merrily playful, both revolutionary and bohemian, his work is the syndrome of our century of barbed wire and Gulags, a manner of finding a reprieve.’’
The Dictionary of Literatures in the French Language (Dictionnaire des littératures de langue française; Editions Bordas.)


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