Thursday, September 04, 2014

Meeting Camilo José Cela

Camilo Jose Cela was Premio Cervantes, Nobel Prize Winner—and had a reputation for being outspoken, abrupt and ill-mannered.

The University of Hardknocks has taught me, and many others, some bitterly-earned lessons which, at times, have led to certain conclusions that I expect and try to heed. One of those lessons has been that the more intelligent and truly important a person is, the more humble and accessible and friendly he is. I would dare venture to say that we could very well make this conclusion a rule of thumb to live by, and expect from life.

The riffraff, the hoi polloi, the small fry, the parvenus, are too bloated with their newly acquired fame and importance, which have gone to their heads, to bother with the rest of the world. As soon as someone is given a radio or TV interview, she feels she has reached the Olympus of politics, literature, science, whatever, and are beyond good and evil, full of certainties. They scorn the lesser humans and tend to ignore them.

My first meeting and personal relationship with the Spanish writer Camilo Jose Cela (1916-2002) started because one fine day I lost my marbles and decided to compile a serious bilingual Spanish and English slang dictionary which I finally titled A Spanish and English Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional Language

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