Arturo Pérez-Reverte is a Spanish novelist, famous for writing the Captain Alatriste series of novels. He also does a considerable amount of journalism too; he used to work as the correspondent for RTVE for foreign conflicts and wars. He has also been a member of the Real Academia Española since 2003.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte was born in Cartagena, in the Spanish region of Murcia, in 1951. He studied and obtained his degree in Journalism, but as part of this course, he also studied Political Science. He then worked for 21 years (from 1973 to 1994) as a war news correspondent. He began his journalistic career in the daily publication 'El Pueblo', where he worked for 12 years. In 1977, he also worked alongside his friend Vicente Talón to set up the magazine 'Defensa' which went on sale from April 1978. Pérez-Reverte was the main editor of the magazine up until the demands of his reporting job obligated him to leave this post. After his stretch with 'El Pueblo', he then began working for the national Spanish media company, RTVE, for whom he worked for another 9 years, up until 1994.
At the start of the 1990s, Arturo Pérez-Reverte presented a radio program on the national channel called La ley de la calle which was a late night show that was later cancelled by the head of RTVE. Then in 1993, Pérez-Reverte was involved in another controversial show called Código Uno which dealt with the news of ongoing crime cases. Later, he left the show saying that the content of the show was 'rubbish' while in Pamplona in 1993, leading to him to revive his journalistic career as a war correspondent. However, a year later he resigned from TVE after he was accused of filing false bills for his expenses while away reporting in war stricken zones, based on a few lines from his book; charges which Arturo Pérez-Reverte refuted. It was from here onwards that he decided to exclusively dedicate his time to literature.
During his time as a reporter, Pérez-Reverte reported on a number of different conflicts including those in the Sahara, El Salvador, Chad, Mozambique, Bisnia, Croatia and many others. However, among all of them, it was the war in Eritrea in eastern Africa in 1977 that affected him the most. At one point, he disappeared for a few months, surviving only with the help of his friends in the guerrilla army. He even had to defend his life with weapons during this period.
The first novel that he wrote was published in 1986 under the title of El húsar. With the success of this novel, Arturo Pérez-Reverte went on to write what would become the first in the best-selling Alatriste series, called El capitán Alatriste in 1996. Not only would this series be a best-seller, but it would also convert Pérez-Reverte into an author recommended by teachers in schools in Spain and abroad to those interested in history. Arturo himself says that he chose to create a character that could convey a crucial moment in the history of Spain, yet still be understood in the present day.
Up to this point, Arturo Pérez-Reverte has published 20 novels and various collections of his articles. Furthermore, some of his novels such as El maestro de esgrima, La tabla de Flandes and El club Dumas have been adapted for cinema. In 2006, the film Alatriste, based on Pérez-Reverte's most successful series, had its premiere.
In June 2003, in recognition of his contribution to contemporary Spanish novels, he was admitted into the Real Academia Española to occupy the seat held previously by the late Spanish philosopher, Manuel Alvar. He was also given an honorary doctorate by the Polytechnic University of Cartagena in February 2004.
The major characteristics of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novels include a strong main character that normally possesses a great deal of complex layers. Plots are fast-paced and are helped along by the inclusion of a narrator who is often related to the story somehow. His novels so far tend to be set in Spain, or the Mediterranean region, and make references to the culture, history, art and colonies of Spain. However, they also tend to deal with a major issue that can be found in modern day society such as the relationship between religion and politics, or the drug trade.
Through his main characters, Pérez-Reverte tends to convey a certain pessimism about the human condition and behavioral tendencies. This viewpoint has certainly been shaped over the past by his research into crimes and his experience in wars and conflicts across the globe. In the more recent parts of his literary career, he has become infamous for developing a more maverick and abrasive style which has become a point of conflict between Arturo and other journalists and writers.
Curiously, Arturo Pérez-Reverte refused for a long time to have his works translated from Spanish into any other language apart from French. Now, his works can be found in most languages, including English, Portuguese and Turkish. However they are still more easily found in the original Spanish - a good reason to take some Spanish courses in Spain!