The Cypresses Believe in God, Vol. I
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By José María Gironella
The Cypresses Believe in God is an epic novel about the anticipatory years of the Spanish Civil War. Set in the provincial capital of Gerona and spanning the years 1931 to 1936, the novel painstakingly plots the public and private elements which eventually exploded into war. At the center of the novel are Matías and Carmen Elgazu Alvear, and their three children: César, strange yet saintly; Pilar, charming and clever; and Ignacio, the protagonist, inquisitive and idealistic. Through these characters and the ordinary life of Gerona, Gironella writes, “I have tried to capture the everyday traits, the mentality, the inner ambiance of my compatriots in all their pettiness and all their grandeur.”
"What thou seest, write in a book…" (The Book of Revelation)
Sprawling yet obsessively detailed, The Cypresses Believe in God is a work of singular standing for its harmony of historical actuality and artistic liberty. Writ large across the two volumes, unforgettably and tragically, is humanity’s susceptibility to the fickle dictates of ideology and its inscrutable capacity for brutality, but also its relentless search for meaning amidst multiplicity and its longing for a peace that will last.
José María Gironella (1917–2003) was a Spanish novelist, born in the Catalonian province of Gerona. He is best known for his two-volume historical novel, The Cypresses Believe in God, for which he won the National Prize for Literature. His other works include One Million Dead and Peace After War, which complete the trilogy begun with The Cypresses Believe in God, and Where the Soil Was Shallow, his debut novel for which he won the Nadal Prize.