José María Gironella

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José María Gironella Pous (b. 31 December 1917, Darnius d. 3 January 2003, Arenys de Mar) was a Catalan and Spanish author best known for his fictional work The Cypresses Believe in God (Los cipreses creen en Dios), which was published in Spain in 1953 and translated into English by Harriet de Onís in 1955. The book is a novel in two parts, and the first part of a trilogy, written from a Roman Catholic viewpoint, by its Catholic author, who had been educated in a seminary — but whose approach is notable for its even-handedness and fair assessment of the many nuances and subtleties among all factions on the eve of war. The story is set in Girona, a city in eastern Catalonia, and follows the life of a family, from 1931 until the Spanish Civil War breaks out in 1936. The protagonist is the son of an atheist from Madrid, who is married to a devout Basque woman, and has a younger brother and sister also caught up in the conflict. In a sequel to Cypresses, One Million Dead (Un millón de muertos), translated by Joan MacLean, Gironella follows the Alvear family through the war. The final book in the trilogy is Peace after War, published in English in 1969, also translated by MacLean.

While Gironella hated the polarization that led to Civil War, he supported the Spanish Nationalists who rallied around Franco.[1] In a review in The New York Times Book Review, Gerald Brenan, an expert on Spanish literature, called the work absorbing and remarkably objective. In its pages, he said, "The sane and the moderate, caught helplessly in a dilemma they did not ask for, must throw in their lot with one violent party or another till mercifully the passions of the war submerge them and confirm their decision. It is this tragic unfolding of events which concerns this novel."


  1. ^ Pace, Eric (2003-01-05). "José Gironella, 85, Author and Franco Backer". New York Times.