The legacy of José Agustín Goytisolo (Barcelona, 1928 – Barcelona, 1999), an outstanding poet of the Generation of 50, has been deposited in rememberence this Tuesday at the Caja de las Letras of the Instituto Cervantes by the hand of his widow, Asunción Carandell, his daughter Julia Goytisolo, the inspiration for the poem Words for Julia, and the novelist Carme Riera, director of the chair dedicated to the writer at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). The author of 21 poetry books joins the growing list of authors and other intellectuals who since 2007 share space in the vault and that include figures such as Miguel Delibes, Gabriel García Márquez, Margarita Salas, Luis García Berlanga, Elena Poniatowska and his brother, Juan Goytisolo. They are the second group of brothers to be in the Caja de las Letras, after Antonio and Manuel Machado, who share the box 1,722. The tribute of the Instituto Cervantes coincides with the 93 years of the birth of the Barcelona writer.
Carme Riera, who has done extensive and meticulous work on the work of Goytisolo mayor, described him as “a prolific poet” whose work is a “kind of palimpsest.” “There that he erased, rewritten, went back over the erasure and continually remade his poems,” commented the winner of the Spanish National Prize for Literature in 2015. She also described him as a “bridge builder”, due to his work as a translator into Castilian Spanish. Catalan poets such as Salvador Espriu and Italian intellectuals such as Pier Paolo Passolini and their close relationship with the literary movement in Cuba, helping to promote a transatlantic dissemination of Hispano-American poetry.
“There are many of us who feel Goytisolo is ours”, declared Riera emotionally. “Paco Ibáñez and other singer-songwriters did the miracle that it was also of many people” and he listed some of the musicians who have put melody to Goytisolo’s words, such as Joan Manuel Serrat, Rosa León, Soledad Bravo, Mercedes Sosa, Kiko Veneno, Raimundo Amador and Lourdes Pastor, who has played his version of Words for Julia. However, despite his wide and varied literary career, Riera recalled that the author of Known history he always considered poetry “his pride”.
Manuscripts, drawings, a lighter and a handkerchief
The daughter of the poet of the Generation of 50 indicated that the content of the deposit includes “first editions of Return, Elegies to Julia Y Psalms to the wind”And an edition of The beggar king, which she has described as “what I like most about my father, apart from the lullabies and the stories he wrote me.” It is also made up of original manuscripts and drawings, translations of Catalan poets that Goytisolo carried out for the Marca Hispánica seal, material from the UAB chair, a volume of his complete poetry edited by Carme Riera and Ramón García Mateos published by Lumen.
Children’s stories are also part of the set, including The good little wolf, which her daughter explains was born from her childhood. “It was a game we played in which a wolf would come and howl and scare me, but if I caressed it and was not afraid of it, the wolf would become good,” he recalls. The texts will remain in the safe box 1619 along with a lighter and a handkerchief, property of the author.
Asunción Carandell, the widow of the author of Psalms to the wind, who originally was not going to intervene, was moved by the tribute and commented that “there are people in Spain and in the world who write well, but not everyone has the same luck.” “José Agustín was a happy person for others, but sad for him” he commented. “José Agustín was brave, because in reality he was very afraid and people who are afraid but know how to overcome it are brave,” he added.