A man of many faces, Jorge Semprún perfectly personified the struggles and successes of twentieth-century Europe. Semprún enjoyed a privileged childhood as the grandson of Spanish prime minister, Antonio Maura, until his world was shattered by the political strife of the Spanish Civil War and he went into exile. Facing dangers rarely seen outside the action movies of Hollywood, Semprún adopted a resilient spirit and rebel’s stance. He fought with the French Resistance in World War II and survived imprisonment at Buchenwald. After the war, he became an organizing member of the exiled Spanish communist party, maintaining the appearance of a normal civilian life while keeping one step ahead of Francisco Franco's secret police for years. Semprún later put his experiences on paper, becoming an internationally acclaimed author and screenwriter.
In this skillfully crafted biography, Semprún's life reads as easily as the best thriller, and has the same addictive rush as watching an edge-of-your-seat mini-series.
AuthorBy Soledad Fox Maura
Published3 July 2018
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
Illustrationsblack and white photographs.
About the author
Soledad Fox Maura is a Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Williams College. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the City University of New York, is a former Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, and has published two books and many articles on Spanish culture and history, and the Spanish Civil War.
"Jorge Semprún packed four or five lives into one. Artist, prisoner, freedom fighter, diplomat, organizer—in his eighty-seven years he quite literally embodied the story of a whole continent. Soledad Fox's superb biography tells his story with clarity, grace, and high style, just as Semprún lived. This is an essential book, biography and history told with novelistic precision."Jonathan Blitzer, writer for The New Yorker
"In this fascinating biography, Soledad Fox demonstrates how Semprún's many lives not only fueled his writing, but also freed him to reinvent them as "auto-fiction." No less important, Fox throws the spotlight on a man little known in the English-speaking world whose extraordinary life and literature mirror the multiple traumas of Europe's 20th century."—Alan Riding, author of And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris
"Soledad Fox Maura's portrait of Jorge Semprún is a brilliant dissection of one of the 20th century's most fascinating characters. Through the smoke and mirrors of Semprún's obsessive self invention, Fox Maura brings her judicious eye to bear down on the great chameleon, one-time Communist, aristocrat, Buchenwald survivor, best-selling novelist, Lothario, spy, and Spain's Minister of Culture . . . totally engrossing!"—Gijs van Hensbergen author of Gaudi: The Biography and Guernica: The Biography of a 20th Century Icon
"I devoured this immensely readable book from start to finish on a single bus journey from Madrid to Zamora, and learned more than I have during far more labour-intensive days in the library."—Duncan Wheeler, Professor of Spanish Studies at the University of Leeds
"The most complete possible portrait of an intense and complex life, a voyage through the 20th century seen through the eyes of one of Spain's most internationally relevant and well-known intellectuals."—El Mundo
"This is a very well written biography, thoroughly researched, and both passionate and dispassionate at the same time. Highly recommended."—Interviú
"With the precision of a surgeon, Soledad Fox Maura . . . brings to life the voice of the unforgettable author of Le grand voyage, and former Minister of Culture." —Alternativas Económicas
"Soledad Fox Maura's biography sheds light on the darker corners of this intellectual's life, and puts words where there was only silence."—La Razón
"At last we have the long-overdue story of his life for the English-language reader, in Soledad Fox Maura’s authoritative biography."—La Revista
"The only missing element for Semprun-the autobiographer, the acclaimed script-writer who managed to stage his own legend through his films, was a real biography. Fox's work beautifully describes Semprun's rich and multilayered life."—Livres
"In her classic and meticulous investigation of the Spanish writer who used his own life as his subject matter, Fox explores, unravels, and brilliantly sorts out the life lived from the imaginary one."—Le Monde
"At last we have the long-overdue story of Jorge Semprun's life for the English-language readers, in Soledad Fox Maura's brilliant biography."—La Revista
"Soledad Fox has written the fascinating biography of a public man who was as iconoclastic as he was enigmatic."—Marianne
"Exploring never seen archives, Fox has succesfully produced a much need substantial biography of the writer who transformed his own life into literature and film, convinced that auto-fiction was the only way to give voice to true testimony."—L'Humanité