Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio is one of the greatest Spanish prose stylists of the twentieth century. A mordant but reflective writer, he greeted the immense success of one of his first novels, El Jarama (The River, 1955), with skepticism. Unwilling to be turned into the standard-bearer for his generation, he abandoned fiction for many years and devoted himself first to the study of language and later to cultural and political analysis.
A well-known consumer of amphetamines, in the 1960s Ferlosio would shut himself away for days on end in his Madrid flat and write profound and erudite texts on Castilian grammar. In the late ’70s, he left this academic work behind and entered the terrain of critique, bringing a surgeon’s precision to bear on the dissection of some of the major problems of Spanish society, such as the new populisms, the obsessions surrounding identity,
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