Javier Marías is a contemporary Spanish journalist, writer, translator and member of the Real Academia Española, being successful in all of these literary domains. Although probably most well known for his novels, Javier Marías' journalistic articles are also well worth reading, especially those who want to learn Spanish as well as about some of the smaller aspects of Spanish culture.
Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951 as the son of the philosopher Julián Marías. He spent a part of his childhood in the United States. This was because his father, who was a republican, was imprisoned and reprised by the Franco regime for a short time, as well as being banned from giving classes in Spanish universities. As a result, Javier Marías' father spent a lot of time teaching in North-American universities. In 1964, his father's prestige was restored and he was incorporated as a member of the Real Academia Española.
Javier himself received a good, solid education as a child, before going on to study Philosophy and Literature at the Complutense University in Madrid. His nephew and cousin, Jesús Franco and Ricardo Franco respectively, were film makers and so Javier Marías spent a lot of time translating and writing scripts for their films, as well as appearing in one of their feature films as an extra.
In 1970, he wrote his first novel, Los dominios del lobo, which was published the following year. During this time, Marías met Juan Benet, a man who would become not only a great friend to Marías, but also a key figure in his personal and literary life. In 1972, he published Travesía del horizonte and El monarca del tiempo in 1978. This same year, his translation of the novel by Laurence Sterne, La vida y opiniones del caballero Tristram Shandy, came out, and was awarded the Fray Luis de León Translation Prize the following year. Over the years, Marías has translated many famous works by authors such as Rudyard Kipling, William Shakespeare, and William Faulkner, among many others. His translation work has meant that these classics have been made available in Spanish schools so that Spanish students can enjoy them just as much as their English-speaking counterparts.
Javier Marías published his fourth novel, El siglo, in 1983. That year he also began teaching Spanish Literature and Translation Theory at the University of Oxford. In the following years, he also taught at Wellesley College and the Complutense University of Madrid. Throughout the end of the 1980s, Marías released even more novels including El hombre sentimental (1986) and Todas las almas (1988).
The 1990s and 2000s saw Javier Marías produce yet more novels and translations, including his most ambitious project yet, Tu rostro mañana, which later had to be split into three volumes as it totaled over 1500 pages, released in 2002, 2004 and 2007. In 2006, Marías was given his seat at the Real Academia Española.
Javier Marías is currently the King of the Kingdom of Redonda, after the title was bestowed upon him by the former king, Jon Wynne-Tyson, in 1997. The Kingdom of Redonda is located on a small island, of less than one square mile in size, to the South-West of Antigua in the West Indies, and has been passed between many literary figures over its almost 150 year existence.
As King Xavier I, Marías has awarded many people the title of Duke of the Kingdom of Redonda, including people such as Pedro Almódovar (Duke of Trembling), Ian McEwan (Duke of Black Dogs), Juan Villoro (Duke of New Year's Eve), and Eduardo Mendoza (Duke of Long Island). He also established a literary prize which not only awards the winner a monetary prize, but the title of a duke as well.
Javier Marías is without doubt famous for his novel writing, but he has also been a prolific Spanish journalist too. He himself runs a small publishing house which goes by the name of Reino de Redonda. He also writes for the Spanish newspaper El País in a weekly column. His column 'La Zona Fantasma' also appears in the monthly publication 'The Believer'.
Many of his journalistic works deal with the different experiences he has had both working and living abroad, particularly comparing elements of Spanish society and lifestyle with those that he encountered while living in the UK, as well as current issues that affect both countries. For example, his article Feeling London's bombs in Madrid in the New York Times compares the experiences of the two terrorist attacks that happened in the two cities. Meanwhile, his article entitled El País de Holmes deals with some of the small cultural differences between the UK and Spain, such as the importance of small amounts of money in England. This means that they are great articles for those who want to study Spanish, as they give a great insight into the culture of the country. Marías' articles can often be very critical, but always give an interesting view of the subject.