Gómez Arcos was born into a large Republican family. He was youngest of seven brothers and was only three years old when the civil war broke out. During the war, his family was in trouble, suffering the postwar consequences of the Franco regime. From an early age, Agustín is interested with literature, which he uses as a mean of escape from the sad facts of life. His high school teacher in Almeria, Celia Viñas, encourages and guides his love for literature, making him known the classics and cultivating the interest of Augustine for writing and theater.
In 1953 he finished high school in Almería and moved to Barcelona, where he obtained a scholarship to enroll in law school. He collaborated for the literary magazine "Poesía Española", and published a collection of poems, "Ocasión de paganismo", and got a national prize for short stories for "El último Cristo". At the same time he was active in the theater group at the university. Three years after starting law school he decided to abandon it, and moved to Madrid with a clear purpose: to dedicate to the theater.
Back in Madrid, he worked as a playwright, actor, director and translator. He wrote a total of fifteen works: "Doña Frivolidad", "Elecciones generales", "El tribunal", "Balada matrimonial", "Diálogos de la herejía", "Los gatos" and "Queridos míos, es preciso contaros ciertas cosas". In 1960 he debuted in the theater with "Elecciones generales" that won a prize at the Primer Festival Nacional de Teatro Nuevo.
At the same time he also dedicated to the translation and adaptation of French plays: "La folle de Chaillot", "Intermezzo" by Jean Giraudoux and "La révélation" by René-Jean Clot. In 1962 he was finalist for the Premio Nacional Calderón de la Barca and won the Premio Nacional Lope de Vega for "Diálogos de la herejía", an award that was quickly snatched away after granting; the work was prohibited in all the Spanish stages in a political maneuver of censorship. In 1964 he finally managed to release it in a censored version. In 1965 he debuted with "Los gatos", also in a censorship version.
The Carnivorous Lamb, cover illustration by Mel Odom
After his run-ins with the regime, Gómez Arcos began to be aware that he could never represent or publish his plays, and considered the exile as a possible solution. In 1966 he returned to get the Premio Nacional Lope de Vega for "Queridos míos", but this time the censorship specifically prohibited any representation. Gómez Arcos then decided to leave Spain with a first destination: London.
Two years after his arrival in the British capital, he moved to Paris. It was June 1968 and all the artistic atmosphere felt after the "May" was steeped in the events that he had just experienced. Paris was again open to creative innovation and was looking for it in the theater, particularly as a mean of social, political and cultural unrest. Gómez Arcos felt comfortable in this atmosphere of creation. He assisted theatrical representations of Beckett, Ionesco, Anouilh, and in particular, Jean Genet for whom he felt a special admiration.
He started his career in Parisian cafe in the Barrio Latino, true centers of theatrical experimentation. He worked as playwright, director, actor and even bartender. In 1969, the magazine "L’Avant-Scène" issued "Pré-papa". He met another Spanish exile, Miguel Arocena, manager of the Café-Théâtre de l'Odéon, which gave him the opportunity to premiere in February 1969 with "Pré-papa" and "Et si on aboyait". He worked for four years with these small stages and continued writing plays like "Sentencia dictada contra P y J" and "Interview de Mrs. Muerta Smith, por sus fantasmas".
In 1974 the editor of Stock, after seeing "Et si on aboyait" in the Café-Théâtre de l'Odéon, offered him to write novels in French. Gómez Arcos accepted the challenge, moved to Athens and then back to Paris months later with "L’agneau carnivore (El cordero carnívoro)", which won the Prix Hermès in 1975. Since then, it was a success after another: in 1976 he published "María Republica" and in 1977 "Ana non (Ana no)", a novel that closed the so-called "postwar trilogy", and won the Prix Thyde Monnier in 1977 and the Prix Roland Dorgelès in 1978. In total, Gómez Arcos published fourteen novels, all written in French. Other than the three already mentioned, there are: Scène de chasse (furtive) (1978) Premio Goncourt finalist; Pré-papa ou Roman de feées (1979); L’enfant miraculée (La enmilagrada) (1981); L’enfant pain (El niño pan) (1983); Un Oiseau brûlé vif (Un pájaro quemado vivo) (1984), Premio Goncourt finalist; Bestiaire (1986); L’homme à genoux (1989); L’Aveuglon (Marruecos) (1990); Mère Justice (1992); La femme d’emprunt (1993), and L’ange de chair (1995).
In 1985 he received the medal of Knight of the Order of French Arts and Letters and in 1995 he obtained another decoration, this time with the rank of Officer.
In 1991 he bounced back to the Spanish scene with "Interview de Mrs. Muerta Smith". Two other of his works, "Los gatos" and "Queridos míos, es preciso contaros ciertas cosas" were represented in Spanish theaters in 1992 and 1994 respectively.
The work of Gómez Arcos is unjustly forgotten, and is greatly unknown to the Spanish reader. However, in recent years Cabaret Voltaire has begun the publication in Castillian of his narrative work written entirely in French.
Agustín Gómez Arcos died on March 20, 1998 in Paris and is buried in the cemetery of Montmartre.
Source (in spanish): http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agust%C3%ADn_G%C3%B3mez_Arcos
As frequently happens when bookish gay men are exploring their sexuality, I assumed the library was my best bet for discovery. [...] Somehow, in one of those serendipitous moments of chance, an inconspicuous book found its way into my hand. The title was intriguing — The Carnivorous Lamb — and immediately appealed to my hyper-Christian sensibilities associated with the word "lamb," not to mention the lamb imagery replete in Lorca‘s aforementioned play. First impressions are always lasting ones, and my first encounter with Gomez-Arcos was shrouded mythic possibilities which my mind has continued to romanticize ever since. --Richard Reitsma, for The Lost LibraryFurther Readings:
The Carnivorous Lamb (Little Sister's Classics) by Agustin Gomez-Arcos
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (December 1, 2007)
Amazon: The Carnivorous Lamb
The latest in the Little Sister’s Classics series resurrecting gay and lesbian literary gems: a viciously funny, shocking yet ultimately moving 1975 novel, an allegory of Franco’s Spain, about a young gay man (the self-described “carnivorous lamb”) coming of age with a mother who despises him, a father who ignores him, and a brother who loves him.
Author Agustin Gomez-Arcos left his native Spain for France in the 1960s to escape its censorship policies. The Carnivorous Lamb, originally written in French, won the Prix Hermes, and this, its 1984 English translation, was widely acclaimed.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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