Carmen Laforet (Barcelona 1921) has just won the Nadal Prize with her work Any when she was just 23 years old when she met her admired Elena Fortún (Madrid, 1886), creator of Celia’s adventures that had inspired her so much as a child. A close relationship of friendship then begins that will take them from letter to letter for five years (between 1947 and 1952) until Fortún’s death.
“In Of heart and soul We come face to face with two exceptional writers, two pioneers each in their generation, defenders of the freedom of the individual to be and to feel. Elena, on the verge of death, and Carmen, in the splendor of her literary career, driven by success and the need for inner recollection. We are facing a revealing book like few others, woven of letters that overflow depth and truth and that take us, from life to death, from doubt to certainty, from joy to sadness and from literature to life “, explain from Banco Santander Foundation.
This work is part of the Fundamental Work Notebooks Collection that publishes this institution. Now seven podcast they give voice to these intimate conversations between the two writers. In the first of them, the correspondence between the two in 1947 reflects on motherhood, the situation in postwar Spain, loneliness or life in Buenos Aires, and reflects the personal and professional affection and admiration that they profess. “I really love her and am in awe of it. Your divine humility saying (you who are at this moment the first Spanish writer!) That you learned to write from me … moves me to the bone ”. Elena Fortún thus begins this epistolary. The following correspond to letters written from 1950, when Fortún began to be in poor health, during his stays at the Puig de Olena Sanatorium and until his death two years later.
As Cristina Cerezales – Laforet’s daughter – points out in one of the three prologues that begin the book, these letters “without pretending to be literature, they are, and furthermore, in some way, they transcend the literary. They are the vehicle to give voice to two people in search of the meaning of life and the feeling of religion ”. Those of Fortún, “written on his deathbed, are of a simplicity and depth that, despite the pain they contain, are especially moving because of their beauty.” In his mother’s, he explains, “I found again, as in the case of Ramón J. Sender, a very high friendship, born and nurtured by both parties from what the other’s literature distills.”
“It was necessary to make this shared treasure of Fortún and Laforet available to the reader, because it teaches us things about life, love, and the deepest expression of feeling, in pursuit of that freedom to be without ties that we all long for,” he says. Javier Expósito, head of the Obra Fundamental Collection and editor of the volume. Without a doubt “they carry a message of love and truth of a depth that is difficult to find in our epistolary literature.”
Rescue forgotten writers
Through this collection, Fundación Banco Santander gives visibility to writers who, for different reasons or simply because they were a woman in their time, have fallen into oblivion or do not have the relevance that corresponds to them. And it also highlights the importance of epistolary literature written by women. The recently published book is a sample of this. In fact, despite the fact that the publication of letters has experienced a great boom in Spanish and Ibero-American literature since the end of the last century, it was not until recently that compilation books of women letters began to appear.
Within this commitment, in recent years he has published works such as the anthology The way is ours, by Elena Fortún and Matlide Ras, which includes a selection of journalistic, social and humanistic articles, short essays, diaries and correspondence from these pioneering writers committed to women’s rights. Both maintained a close friendship relationship. He has also edited Symphony in red, an anthology that includes some of the masterpieces of the Catalan writer Elisabeth Mulder; Of love and other passions. Literary articles, with Clara Campoamor’s essays on poetry and lyric; or The voice alone, a volume of poems and newspaper articles by Ana Maria Sagi, a pioneer of feminism.