Presentation of Mr. Francisco Márquez Villanueva’s short story book

The Goñi and Rey Foundation has compiled the entire fiction works of Mr. Francisco Márquez Villanueva in a previously unpublished volume, with a prologue written by academic Mr. Juan Gil and with the editing and critical analysis by Mrs. Luisa López Grigera, professor of philology at the University of Michigan. With this publication, the Foundation, to whose Board of Trustees Mr. Márquez Villanueva belonged, and to which both Mr. Gil and Mrs. López Grigera belong, would like to pay tribute to he who was one of the most distinguished hispanists of the second half of the 20th Century, professor of Romance Languages at Harvard and one of the School’s most universal former students. The Foundation’s president, Mrs. Maribel Goñi; the delegate of Education, Culture, and Sports at the Andalusia Governing Body, Mr. Francisco Díaz Morillo; the writer of the prologue, Mr. Juan Gil; the former colleague of Mr. Márquez Villanueva’s, Mr. Santiago López-Ríos; the professor and coordinator of the book ‘Encrucijada de culturas: Alfonso X y su tiempo”, Mr. Emilio González Ferrín; and Mr. Márquez Villanueva’s widow, Mrs. María Teresa Lorenzo. Sin título9

From left to right, Emilio González-Ferrín; Maribel Goñi; Juan Gil; María Teresa Lorenzo; Santiago López-Ríos; and Francisco Díaz Morillo.

With the title of ‘Cuentos sin influencia de Borges’, the volume published by the Goñi and Rey Foundation is a collection of seven short stories, three of them published in magazines while the other four are previously unpublished, having been written between 2005 and 2007. “El gatito del Papa”, published in 1971; “La hija”, in 1992; and “En la embajada de Finlandia”, also from 1992, had appeared in literary magazines. “Licorinda y Salustanquidio” (2005-2006), “Los embrujos de Sevilla” (2006); “Preñada” (2007); and “Carmen, Francisco y Luisito (En el modo de memorias” (2006) are texts that are seeing the light for the first time. All of them uncover Márquez Villanueva’s lesser known facet as a narrator, composing a volume that is, in a certain way, a surprise, as Mr. Gil says, because “instead of it being a finished and studious analysis about a specialized topic”, as one would expect from the author of the texts, “it is a welcomed literary outpour.”

“Everybody knew the elegant and pure style he displayed in his scientific production, but nobody could suspect that, under his affable appearance of a wise teacher, a true writer was hidden (that on top of his personal confession, that ‘he was less a writer than a priest’)”, writes Mr. Juan Gil to whom the style of these stories also does not respond “to the idea that we had wrought on the personality of their author”: “we didn’t expect from Francisco Márquez concessions to the gallery, but upwind and gallant prose compelled us to think. But these are sad, tough, and enigmatic stories, even though they are always transfixed with humanity, and may even shine, in desperate situations, some possibility of redemption.”

This does not preclude, however, that in some of this stories, Márquez Villanueva’s condition as a philologist may emerge, as well as his Seville origin, “as if its author, so in love with Seville, would like to console his prolonged absence from the city that gave Barth to him in two ways: accumulating popular sayings and expressions from the small land, delving into childhood memories and bringing back to life his grandmother Carmen in a perfect and accomplished semblance,” writes in the prologue Mr. Juan Gil. According to professor Luisa López Grigera, author of the critical analysis included in the volume, it is possible to trace a dividing line between the seven stories: “El gatito del Papa”, “La hija”, and “En la embajada de Finlandia” would enter “under what we call narrative fiction”, to which we would have to add “Carmen, Francisco y Luisito” for being “memory based”. “Licorinda y Salustanquidio” and “Los embrujos de Sevilla”, although they adopt a certain narrative structure, fall better under what could be called a menippean satire, given that “the satirical intention predominates and the fact that they were constructed predominantly by phrases done and common places”, very similar to page like the “Cuento de cuentos” by Quevedo and others that are closer by Camilo J. Cela and Alonso Zamora Vicente.

The author sent the previously unpublished stories that appear in this volume to the principal of the Colegio de San Francisco de Paula, Mr. Luis Rey Goñi, in 2006 and 2007. Mrs. López Grigera’s critical analysis was also written in that time period. The author thought about the possibility of publishing them, but he was never able to, given that his scientific interests took up most of his time. After his death, his widow, Mrs. María Teresa Lorenzo, gave the green light to the Goñi and Rey Foundation’s initiative –to which Márquez Villanueva belonged- of publishing them in a volume with his entire narrative production.

Tribute by the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation: Presentation of the book ‘Encrucijada de culturas. Alfonso X y su tiempo’.

The Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation also dedicated its particular tribute to Márquez Villanueva’s figure, editing the book ‘Encrucijada de culturas. Alfonso X y su tiempo’, a compilation of articles coordinated by university professor Emilio González Ferrín about the figure of the Wise King and his literary creation, written by authors that had worked closely with the Harvard professor. The book includes an extensive interview with Márquez Villanueva in which he gives his opinion on the separation between History and Literature that has traditionally been done in the Spanish educational system. “In 2008 the Foundation created the Al-Andalus professorship and Francisco Márquez Villanueva was our mentor. We had been working on this editorial project for a year and a half and we can finally publish it as a tribute to him,” said professor González Ferrín.

During the act of the book’s presentation, current students Sara Romero Otero, Paola Beato García de Sola and María Domínguez Del Castillo from the 11th grade, read fragments of ‘El concepto cultural alfonsí’ and ‘De la España judeoconversa’. Former student Ignacio Ojeda Romero, interpreting on piano Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825, by Johann Sebastian Bach, closed the act.