Vicente Puchol
Vicente Puchol

Other´s comments on his work


Critical response


  • In History and Criticism of Spanish Literature(Francisco Rico, editor), Santos Sanz Villanueva (one of the most prestigious contemporary critics of Spanish literature) says: Vicente Puchol is one of the most vigorous Spanish creators of allegorical narratives with a tone that is at times Kafkaesque. His novels, dense, symbolic, and tending toward inventive episodes, contain a markedly critical stance toward contemporary moral and social values.


    • From an article by Santos Sanz Villanueva on Germánico, published in Diario 16 (5 October 1989): “Many authors of praiseworthy work, even great work, fail to make an impression on the reading public simply because they are not on the short list of literary celebrities that have been chosen by the press, the most important media in this area. This is the case with Vicente Puchol, a Valencian of strong character, whose first two novels are Crates Emancipates Crates (1981) and The Great Dane (1983). (…) These two novels are the work of an author who has a well-defined literary plan, with technique inherited from Kafka and a clear intention to condemn. (…) [In Germánico] the central narrative is peppered with observations that reflect the whole of contemporary life. (…) Puchol does not write about a real case, or even a probable or possible case, but rather creates a world ruled by moral intentionality. Indeed, what remains after his implacable and inventive testimony is the image of a generalized decline in values. Humanity’s lack of authenticity is combined with the immorality of business, and a light shines on this image; the light is the author’s voice. Thus, Puchol joins the ranks of authors who carry out a moralistic activity, who uncover and describe contemptible acts, condemning them without excuses. Puchol’s moralism is strict, but his novel avoids overly explicit lessons, and his attitude is not severe. On the contrary, mockery, humor, and nonsense are a regular part of this harsh chronicle of dirty business and perverse habits.


    • On the back cover of Germánico, editor Juan de Dios Leal declares: Vicente Puchol is one of the most original Spanish novelists in recent years. From Crates Emanicipates Crates (Prometeo, 1981) to The Great Dane (Argos Vergara, 1983), he has been noteworthy for his implacable social satire, uncommon sense of humor, and fresh style of literature that is full of surprises and adventures. He is an heir not only to our own tradition of picaresque literature, but also to that of popular theater. (…) [Vicente Puchol] analyzes modern society with a brilliance and audacity that can only be compared to Thomas Sharpe or Martin Amis.


    • From an article in El País by Alfredo Bryce Echenique titled, “Notes on a Grand New Author” (22 January 1984): [Vicente Puchol’s] first novel (Crates Emancipates Crates) is highly personal, as full of humor as it is of nightmarish elements, [especially those that are] impossible to separate from the world we live in. (…) [In The Great Dane] his humor takes the form of “the smile of reason” (…) which hides reality in order to better depict it. And, truly, the novel’s originality lies in the interplay between reality and unreality (…), which symbolizes one of life’s great truths: appearances can be deceiving. Puchol uses this technique, converting it into a means of creating the novel, to both entertain and exhort, in a masterful slight of hand. He leads us deep into a (…) satirical diversion, which makes a profound mockery of society. (…) In the midst of all of this shines the author’s wonderful writing of particular scenes in the novel. (…) Throughout this excellent novel, what stands out the most is the manner in which each character plays the instrument that the author has assigned him, producing just the right sounds so that the ensemble results in an artistic harmony, which is, in the end, precisely his intention.


    • Carlos Bousoño, at a conference held at La Lonja, Valencia (16 May 2001), said: His first novel, Crates Emancipates Crates, was the belated revelation of an author whose boundless imagination is capable of great concepts. His second, The Great Dane, contains pages written with near-mathematical precision, and an extended metaphor of the falsity inherent in human lives that are guided by the idols of power and money. In the third, Germánico, the author uses the perfectly-developed framework of a detective novel to offer the reader a vision of the world – something that has never been done before, as far as I know. In his most recent novel, Dreams on a Bull’s Hide, his model handling of language is capable of competing with the classics. The novel describes a republic founded by exiles from the Spain of Ferdinand and Isabel, where the author’s flights of imagination climb as high as the towers and minarets of Puchol’s imaginary North African city-state.

    In "Història i Literatures" by Joan Oleza and Josep Ll. Sirera, published by Institució Alfons El Magnànim del Institució Valenciana D'Estudis I Investigació (1985): "Vicente Puchol (Valencia, 1932), who has written two novels in rapid succession, Crates Emancipates Crates (1982) and The Great Dane (1983), of which the second has won the Valencia Community Critics' Prize, seems to have begun to discover a powerful, Kafka-like ability as a narrator; he possesses narrative force, the ability to imagine different scenarios, and an unquestionable vocation for symbology.


    • From a review in ABC (3 April 1982): In Crates Emancipates Crates, we feel the absurd existentialism of Kafka, the anguish of the Russian novelists, Orwell’s piercing irony, [and] Camus’ narrative sobriety and intellectual rigor. (…) Every word, every line, every paragraph, faithfully and effectively supports the complex narrative framework. For that reason, [Puchol’s] language can be both sharp and agile, dense and solemn, all at once. His is a flexible style which adapts to his needs. And he is right to express this great fable’s poetic and symbolic dimensions with harshness and candor.


    In the Prologue to Crates Emancipates Crates(1982), the poet Francisco Brines comments: Our author, in the novel, always speaks of the knowledge of life. (…) Crates Emancipates Crates is a novel about man’s radical solitude and ultimate helplessness. It overflows with intelligence and humor. It has many positive qualities, such as the author’s admirable capacity for creating intrigue (which impels us to keep reading) or the diverse and abundant imagination behind the novel’s situations and characters. (…) This shows just how solidly the author has hit the target in making us feel the anguish of modern-day man. (…) The result is not only, I dare to affirm, an excellent novel, but also something even more valuable: the delightful discovery of a novelist.


    • Review by J. Alvarez in Diario de Valencia (9 February 1982) titled “The Emancipation of Crates and the Masked Man”: As Juan de Dios Leal commented the other night, Crates Emancipates Crates is “a critical novel, a book that is as important – for me – as One Hundred Years of Solitude.” For Juan de Dios Leal to say it is meaningful. For Francisco Brines to repeat it is clearly symptomatic [of its greatness].


  • From an article by Fernando Arias in Hoja del Lunes (10 July 1989), titled “Beyond the Detective Novel”: Vicente Puchol goes deeper into moral relativity, reaching philosophical levels. (…) [He has] his own world, his own esthetic, and his own language (…) [In all of his novels], he reflects an individual’s confrontation (…) with an abiguous society, hidden by conventions or established codes which are ultimately corrupt and decisive. On another level, this author at the apex of his talent is characterized by the agility and inventiveness of his dialogues, the density and intensity of all of his novels, his efficient language – which alternates between realism and farce as the narrative requires, his skill in creating oppressive settings, and his cutting humor.


  • From an article by Pedro J. de la Peña in Las Provincias (8 January 1984) on The Great Dane: It is also important for its attitude. [It demonstrates] a posture, a point of view, that is completely modern. And inevitably the advances in perception that contemporary sensibilities have experienced through the work of Kafka, Samuel Beckett, or Onetti come to mind. This is the world of Vicente Puchol. (…) The history of the 19th Century’s political upheavals (…) and, more recently, those of the 20th Century, with all of the changes made to their image, changes that were required to maintain a pre-existing dominance, make up the final – and masterful – lesson that the novelist offers us.


From an article by Juan de Dios Leal in Levante (4 February 1984), titled “The Author Vicente Puchol, a Literary Revelation”: We find ourselves before one of the most self-assured Spanish novelists in recent time. (…) [The Great Dane] is an astonishing novel. It is the novel of a great author, one who has created a gallery of palace intrigues that reflect everyday schemes, those that play out in our neighbor’s house and in our own, and that demonstrate how power disguises its own ambitions to survive. It is a surprising allegory, from the pen of a writer who I have no hesitation in qualifying as the most important Valencian novelist since Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.


  • From an article by José María Izquierdo in Diario de Valencia (3 March 1982), titled “Crates Emancipates Crates: A Discourse on Solitude and Self-Knowledge”: It is always a pleasure to read a novel that takes us beyond the monotony and boredom that so much contemporary writing produces in the reader (…) but if in addition to enjoyment, we feel passion, its merit is praiseworthy. Crates Emancipates Crates is Vicente Puchol’s first novel. It is also a novel of great maturity, whose author presents a discourse on human solitude and self-knowledge. (…) From the novel’s opening pages, he shows us the problem of introspective self-knowledge in an individual’s solitude, as the path to freedom from the “institution.” (…) The novel is excellent.


From an article by José María Izquierdo in Diario de Valencia(11 December 1983) on The Great Dane, titled “Cynicism as Unconventional Philosophy”: Vicente Puchol, well aware of the logic of business due to his profession as a highly qualified jurist, unravels all of its miseries. Both the local political opposition and City Hall will succumb to the ducal palace’s protocol, playing its game – an allegory of experiences with which we are not unfamiliar. And just when we have gone deep into what we believe are the novel’s secret details, that is, a supposedly sceptical irony on the normalization of society, when we are paying close attention to protocol, everything blows up. In only a few pages, and at vertiginous speed, this game of conventional reality comes to an end and its only reason for existence is revealed to be economic interests.


  • From an article in Las Provincias (9 November 1983) titled, “Another Lost Generation”: Before functional illiterates decided to write novels, there was in these parts something resembling a generation of Spanish-language novelists whose talent was considerable, despite the fact that they were never considered for a Nobel, nor were they overwhelmed by fans of monthly mini-best sellers. I speak here of writers such as (…) Vicente Puchol, among others. They are people with an exquisite education and culture, survivors of as many wars as Coronel Aureliano Buendía, losers – truly – in all of them. [They are writers] who have maintained a refined literary tradition that has otherwise been lost or has slid into deliberate mannerism. Republicans with class who hated the Francoist government they had fought, and early readers of Faulkner or Proust, Melville or Conrad, their faith – also clearly erroneous – in literary life was solid. [They were in no way] like authors nowadays.


On the release of the most recently published novel, Dreams of a Bull’s Hide, El País published an interview titled, “In Reality, a Novel is a Life,” Journalist Julio A. Mañez commented: A Valencian novelist born in the interwar period, Vicente Puchol is a singular case in Spanish literature. Meticulous, exacting, and highly cultured, he has had the good fortune to not need to rely on his literature to earn his living. Thus he is able to write what he wants, distanced from the strident demands of the market. (…) He has just published Dreams of a Bull’s Hide, a novel that is peppered with historical figures, and which is at its heart, a pessimistic defense of liberty.