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Carmen Laforet (Born Barcelona September 6, 1921– died Madrid, February 28, 2004) was a Spanish author who wrote in the period after the Spanish Civil War. An important European writer, her works contributed to the school of Existentialist Literature and her first novel Nada continued the Spanish Tremendismo literary style,who was begun by Camilo José Cela, with his novel, La familia de Pascual Duarte.
Laforet was born in Barcelona, but at the age of 2 she moved with her family to the Canary Islands where she spent her childhood. At age 12 she suffered the loss of her mother, and her father subsequently married a woman disliked by Laforet and her siblings (unsavory experiences portrayed in much of her literature). In 1939 at the age of 18, Laforet left for Barcelona where she studied Philosophy at the University of Barcelona while living with relatives. In 1942 she departed for Madrid where she studied Law at the Universidad Complutense. During her second year, she withdrew from classes to devote herself completely to writing, and between January and September 1944 she penned her first novel, Nada, which earned Editorial Destino's Nadal Prize in its first year of publication (1945). A novel of female adolescent development, Nada is considered a classic in 20th century Spanish literature; in many respects, this novel is Spain's The Catcher in the Rye with regard to such universal themes as existentialism and the adolescent search for identity.
Like Salinger, Laforet maintained a very distrustful relationship with her critics, especially after she struggled to match the outstanding critical acclaim of her first novel. However, she did publish a total of five novels: the 1952 publication of La Isla y los demonios, which is essentially the prequel to Nada; her 1955 La mujer nueva, motivated by her re-discovery of her Catholic faith and recipient of the Premio Menorca; her 1963 La insolación, the initial installment of the trilogy Tres pasos fuera del tiempo; and finally her posthumous Al volver la esquina, published in May 2004 and considered by many to be her most accomplished psychological novel. Following her visit to the U.S. as a guest of the State Department in 1965, Laforet published her travel notes entitled Parelelo 35 in 1967. Her friendship with fellow Spanish author and U.S. resident Ramón J. Sender was revealed in a series of letters published in 2003 entitled Puedo contar contigo. She also authored short stories, the majority of which were published in a 1952 collection entitled La muerta, as well as novelettes that were published in a 1954 collection entitled La llamada. Four additional short stories--"El infierno," "Recién casados," "El alivio," and "El secreto de la gata"--were published in the journals Ínsula (1944 & 1952), Destino (June 1953) and Bazar (March 1952) respectively.
Since Laforet's death on February 28, 2004, renewed critical attention has focused on her lesser known works (essentially everything published after Nada), yet undoubtedly the public will always think of Nada when Laforet's name is mentioned, as evidenced by the Spanish phrase, Después de Nada, nada, or After Nada, nothing.
- Carmen Laforet at Find a Grave