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La Colmena av Camilo Jose Cela
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La Colmena (urspr publ 1951; utgåvan 1987)

av Camilo Jose Cela (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,1392512,568 (3.69)28
In this extraordinary novel of life in Madrid after the Spanish Civil War, Camilo Jose Cela conveys with startling immediacy not only the brutality but also the vitality of life in the city. His style—economical but vivid—carries the reader through a series of vignettes, following Cela’s many characters through the streets and tenements and brothels and, above all, the cafés of the great beehive—la colmena—of Madrid. Both a social document of its time and place and a moving tale of human suffering—and human triumph--under a totalitarian regime, The Hive is “a brilliant and original work” (Gerald Brenan, The New York Times Book Review).… (mer)
Medlem:ClaudiaSolans
Titel:La Colmena
Författare:Camilo Jose Cela (Författare)
Info:Noguer y Caralt (1987)
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Bikupan av Camilo José Cela (1951)

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    Books Burn Badly av Manuel Rivas (alalba)
    alalba: Dos novelas corales en las que se habla de las consecuencias de la guerra civil espanola
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» Se även 28 omnämnanden

engelska (12)  spanska (7)  katalanska (3)  nederländska (1)  norska (1)  Alla språk (24)
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BG-4
  Murtra | Sep 18, 2020 |
Like Ulysses and Berlin Alexanderplatz, this is one of those modernist books that tries to find a way for the novel to engage with the complexity of the twentieth century city, in this case Madrid in the winter of 1942. Instead of invading the consciousness of a single protagonist or showing us the shifting relationships of a small group of characters, Cela takes 160 "main characters" and shows us brief scenes from their lives over the space of a few days, rapidly cutting back and forth between different characters and also shifting backwards and forwards in time unpredictably. Some of the characters have scenes that cross-over several different storylines, others just seem to pass through without any important interactions, just providing an ironic contrast to what has gone before.

Cela doesn't want to hide anything under a veil of respectability here, which obviously accounts for the difficulty he had getting the book past the Spanish censor (it eventually had to be published in Buenos Aires). Middle-class businessmen and their wives cross paths with whores, con-men, child-abusers, voyeurs, cops, impecunious poets, and worse. There is the murder of an old woman, treated with as much attention as the ejection of a non-paying customer from Doña Rosa's café; there is a lover concealed in a laundry-hamper; several people are clearly dying of TB; there are gypsies and shanty-town dwellers and all the poverty and squalor and unemployment of the Posguerra. So there's a lot of misery, but there's also a surprising amount of dry humour around. If people are in trouble, Cela is interested in how they got there: a couple of times he breaks off to tell us what has happened to all someone's children and grandchildren for no obvious reason except that he wants us to know how that kind of family develops.

Fascinating and complicated: this is one of those books where you end up letting it all wash over you the first time through, intending to come back and read it more carefully, paying full attention to who is who. But perhaps the washing-over is the point: there's a scene where Cela talks about the way we look at our fellow-passengers in the tram and imagine their stories, and that seems to be a good illustration of what this book is trying to reproduce. ( )
  thorold | Jul 23, 2020 |
Street benches - an anthology of troubled times
(with apologies to the author)

Black market trader warily reclines
An old man seeking to ease his asthma
The priest reading his breviary lines
The printer lunches with his wife Alma.
A young girl worn out in her deep loves moan
The musician rests his horn on his knee
Reading a romance grossly overblown
While the little girl likes to watch men pee.
A blind woman waits for the hours to pass
A woman with cancer fighting the pain
As the typist gulps lunch coarse bread crass
The morons mouth gaping dribbles again
Broad bottomed girls fat sardines in excess
Impregnate the planks with stale smells of flesh

Fragments or vignettes of prose are set down in generally non chronological order to capture life in Madrid during a few days in 1942. The second world war rages in the distance and many people are hungry, some in fear of retribution following the Victory of Franco that ended the Spanish Civil war. Life goes on but life in hard times is a struggle which rarely brings out the best in people. The reader concentrates on these fragments which radiate out from the cafe culture at Dona Rosa's cafe. Chapter one contains pen picture of some of the characters who will appear and reappear in the book and from the very start a picture of selfishness and greed emerges. Dona Rosa is the first to be described:

Dona Rosa comes and goes between the cafe tables, bumping into customers with her enormous backside. Dona Rosa often says "damn it to hell" and "what a pain"..... for Dona Rosa her cafe is the world and everything revolves around the cafe.......
Dona Rosa's face is covered with blotches, it always looks as if she were changing her skin like a lizard. When she is deep in thought, she forgets herself and picks strips off her face, sometimes as lons as paper streamers. Then she snaps out of it, begins to walk up and down again, and smiles at the customers, whom at heart she loaths, showing her blackened little teeth encased in filth.


It is a large cafe with a team of waiters, a manager, a shoeshine boy and a cigarette boy, but many of the customers are poor and spend their days in the cafe counting their pesetas. It is estimated that 10% of the customers are suffering from tuberculosis.

The impressionistic writing in chapter one continues through the book although some of the stories around the characters develop further. The girls and women struggle in a world dominated by men, and by the time the book is into its stride much of the content is stories of girls forced into one kind of prostitution or another. There are instances of kindness and even love in evidence, but when life for many of the people is a struggle to get enough food to eat then the streets of Madrid in winter can be cold and lonely.

The novel was published in Spain in 1951 and translated into English in 1953 and has been celebrated for its stylistic innovations and its sometimes candid description of life in a catholic country (although religion does not play a major part in the majority of the stories). The short interludes gives the book it's unquestionable dynamism and the impression of a city teeming with life with the reader peeping into just a small fraction of what is going on. However it is that 'what is going on' that serves to provide an almost historical document of life at that moment in time in Madrid.

With so many characters having their brief moment of fame as it were by appearing in the vignettes it is difficult to keep track of them all, but as we are not getting the full story in many instances this does not seem to matter. It is the overall impression that left it's mark on me.

Much of the book consists of dialogue and so the reader also has to become familiar with the patterns of speech and the cultural background of the characters. I read a translation by J M Cohen (in consultation with Arturo Barea) and so I might have missed something of those patterns of speech.
However I understood enough to know that I had read a very fine experimental novel whose stye leaves a lasting impression. 4 stars. ( )
1 rösta baswood | Feb 25, 2020 |
Mis libros
  Amicis | Jul 8, 2019 |
EN MADRID, 1942, UNA MULTITUD DE PERSONAJES, ASÍDUOS DE UN CAFÉ UNOS, ENTRELAZAN SUS VIDAS Y VAN VIVIENDO EN EL AMBIENTE DE LA POSGUERRA ESPAÑOLA, CON SUS APUROS ECONÓMICOS, SUS AMORES, SUS TEMORES POLÍTICOS, ETC. ( )
  Elenagdd | Apr 17, 2019 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (33 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Camilo José Celaprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Barea, ArturoInledningmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Cohen, J. M.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Ponzanelli, SergioÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Rijkmans, J.G.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

In this extraordinary novel of life in Madrid after the Spanish Civil War, Camilo Jose Cela conveys with startling immediacy not only the brutality but also the vitality of life in the city. His style—economical but vivid—carries the reader through a series of vignettes, following Cela’s many characters through the streets and tenements and brothels and, above all, the cafés of the great beehive—la colmena—of Madrid. Both a social document of its time and place and a moving tale of human suffering—and human triumph--under a totalitarian regime, The Hive is “a brilliant and original work” (Gerald Brenan, The New York Times Book Review).

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