José Jiménez Lozano, a Spanish writer and journalist, was born in Langa (Ávila) on May 13, 1930. After studying law and journalism, he served as Editor, Deputy Director and Director of the newspaper El Norte de Castilla. He has also been a regular contributor to other national and regional newspapers (El País, ABC and La Razón, the Vocento and Promecal groups) as well as Destino magazine.
Jiménez Lozano's work is prolific and varied. He has published twenty-six novels, twelve collections of short stories, nine volumes of poetry and seven books of notations. In 1988 he was awarded the Premio Castilla y León de las Letras, and a year later the Critics' Award for El grano de maiz rojo. In 1992 he received the National Prize for Spanish Literature and, in 1999, the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts. In 2002, Jiménez Lozano received Spain's most important literary honor, the Miguel de Cervantes Prize for Spanish Literature, in recognition of his career as a writer. In November 2017, Pope Francis granted him the 'Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice' decoration. His work has been translated into French, German, Italian, English, Czech, Russian, Icelandic and Dutch.
Jiménez Lozano's first novel was Historia de un otoño (1971), which tells the story of a group of women religious in 17th century France whose resistance to royal authority led to the destruction of the Abbey of Port-Royal des Champs. El sambenito (1972) narrates the drama of the last trial held by the Spanish Inquisition in the late 18th century, in which Pablo de Olavide was condemned for impiety and heresy. Jiménez Lozano has published several novels set in the period of the Spanish Civil War and the postwar period: La salamandra (1973), Duelo en la Casa Grande (1982), Un hombre en la raya (2000), Retorno de un cruzado (2013), and Se llamaba Carolina (2016). Recreations of Biblical stories also figure prominently in the author's work, in numerous short stories and in the novels Sara de Ur (1989), El viaje de Jonás (2002), Libro de visitantes (2007) and Abram y su gente (2014). Another important series of novels deals with social and religious questions, old and new: Parábolas y circunloquios de Rabí Isaac Ben Yehuda (1325-1402), La boda de Ángela (1993), Las sandalias de plata (1996), Los compañeros (1997), Ronda de noche (1998), Las señoras (1999), Los lobeznos (2001), Carta de Tesa (2004) and Agua de Noria (2008). The author's fastasy novels include Relación topográfica (1992), Maestro Huidobro (1999) and Un pintor de Alejandría (2010). Jiménez Lozano has dedicated three works of fiction to great figures of Spanish literature (San Juan de la Cruz, Miguel de Cervantes and Santa Teresa): El mudejarillo (1992), Las gallinas del licenciado (2005) and Precauciones con Teresa (2015). Memorias de un escribidor, published in 2018, is a humorous biography.
Short story collections published by Jiménez Lozano include El santo de mayo (1976), El grano de maíz rojo (1988), Los grandes relatos (1991), El cogedor de acianos (1993) and Un dedo en los labios (1996); the latter is dedicated entirely to female protagonists. More recent volumes of stories include El ajuar de mamá (2006), La piel de los tomates (2007), El azul sobrante (2009). In addition, Tom ojos azules, a story published in 1995, was adapted in 2016 by the composer John Craton as the libretto for a children's opera. Another of the author's biblical stories, "El paseante, o Ester recontada" (2012) has been published alongside a facsimile version of the scroll of The Book of Esther which is held in the Cathedral of Madrid.
Jiménez Lozano has studied the history of Spain for many decades and has written about its most difficult aspects and periods: the coexistence of Jews, Moors and Christians in the Peninsula; the Inquisition; the Spanish Civil War; and more recently, the tyranny of the "politically correct". At the same time, he has linked Spain's history with other European cultural processes, such as the origins of Modernity, the French Revolution, European secularization and the consequences of 20th century totalitarianism. His essays on these topics include Los cementerios civiles y la heterodoxia española (1978), which is a denunciation of religious intolerance, and three studies on the problems of daily coexistence in different periods of Castilian history: Sobre judíos, moriscos y conversos (1982), Spiritual Guide of Castilla (1984) and Ávila (1988). The volume entitled El narrador y sus historias (2003) includes several lectures on the task of the writer; Los ojos del icono (1988), Estampas y memorias (1990) and Retratos y naturalezas muertas (2000) are reflections on art and painting accompanying the earliest among a series of exhibits of Castilian religious art known as "Las Edades del Hombre". Jiménez Lozano has written two biographical studies: one on Pope John XXIII (1973) and another on Fray Luis de León (2001), as well as two collections of miscellaneous essays---La obstinación del almendro (2012) and Siete parlamentos en voz baja (2015)---and four collections of newspaper articles: La ronquera de Fray Luis (1973), Retratos y soledades (1977), Ni venta ni alquilaje (2003) and Buscando un amo (2017).
Jiménez Lozano's appreciation of conversation as a form of knowledge is reflected in two interview books: Una estancia holandesa. Conversación con Gurutze Galparsoro (1992) and Las llagas y los colores del mundo. Conversación con Guadalupe Arbona (2011). He has also published numerous articles on fellow writers: Kierkegaard y Unamuno, Azorín y Flannery O'Connor, Emily Dickinson y Antonio Machado, Cervantes y Pascal, the Brontë sisters and the narrators of the Bible, Spinoza y Sushako Endo, etc.
He is the author of nine books of poetry, the first three of piercing verses which reflect on the wounds of history and the transitory nature of life: Tantas devastaciones (1992), Un fulgor tan breve (1995) and El tiempo de Eurídice (1996). The poems of the later volumes, written in a brief and transparent verse that celebrates nature, draws sketches of other poets and "literary accomplices", or reflects on moments in time and the simple things of life, include Pájaros (2000), Elegías menores (2002), Elogios y celebraciones (2005), Anunciaciones (2008), La estación que gusta al cuco (2010) and Los retales del tiempo (2015). In addition, Jiménez Lozano has written several volumes of diaries, which he calls notebooks or books of musings because his intention is simply to "accompany" the reader; they include Los tres cuadernos rojos (1986), Segundo abecedario (1992), La luz de una candela (1996), Los cuadernos de letra pequeña (2003), Advenimientos (2006), Los cuadernos de Rembrandt (2010) and Impresiones provinciales (2015). He has received many honors, including the "Miguel Delibes" Journal Prize, the Fundación Troa award, the ¡Bravo! Prize for Communications, the "Luca de Tena" Prize, and the "Esther's Crown" Award. He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Cervantes Institute and the Residencia de Estudiantes.
The works of José Jiménez Lozano are written in clear and simple Spanish and their language is an updating of the country's oral tradition. The footprint of three of Spain's great classical writers---Cervantes, Teresa de Jesús and Fray Luis de León---are clearly evident: the Cervantine style of narration as well as the characteristic simplicity of Teresian story-telling and the limpid prose of Fray Luis. In addition to the simplicity of his language and the presence of the classics, other notable features include the universal referents that nourish the author's world, thereby enriching his work with influences from other traditions: the Near Eastern biblical world, the Russia of Dostoyevski and Tolstoy, the France of Pascal and Jansenism, the worlds of Spinoza, Kierkegaard and the Icelandic writers, the America of Emily Dickinson and Flannery O'Connor. The imaginary world of the writer arises from this melting pot of territories and characters, expressed in a wide variety of literary genres: impossible fantastic fables, historical stories, biblical recreations and social dramas. Jiménez Lozano's characters are almost always chosen from among the poor, the powerless and the forgotten; his writing gives a voice to these "beings of misfortune" (S. Weil), since writing for him consists precisely of rememberance. His poems range from a cry of outrage in response to the atrocities of history, to the celebration of nature and the praise of figures whom he admires. Jiménez Lozano's newspaper columns and essays reflect the wisdom underlying his literary work, the struggle for freedom which is the center and driving force of his historical studies, and his love for the arts. The works of José Jiménez Lozano long years of artistic and literary endeavor have reached thousands of readers, who have discovered in them the richness of his world and his artistry, and they have also opened a space for freedom within the Spanish cultural scene. Today José Jiménez Lozano can be considered a teacher of contemporary Spanish writers. [GA, translated by VH]