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Carlos RojasEmeritus Faculty


Carlos Rojas began his tenure at Emory University in 1960 after receiving his doctorate from the University of Madrid in 1955 and teaching at Rollins College in Florida. He was appointed Charles Howard Candler Professor of Spanish Literature en 1980 and received the University Scholar/Teacher award in 1987 in recognition of his excellence in teaching and in scholarship. He was a recipient in 2001, as Professor Emeritus, of the Arts and Sciences Award of Distinction in acknowledgement of his outstanding contributions to the Emory Community and to the world. Upon his retirement from his 35 years at Emory in the spring of 1996, his colleagues in the Spanish Department presented him with the farewell tribute of a Symposium in Honor of Carlos Rojas, a day-long acknowledgment of his impact upon the world of ideas and creativity.

The academic career of Carlos Rojas was enhanced by his prolific creation of scholarly and fictional works that include his extensive works on various aspects of the Spanish Civil War (a tragic event that confounded his childhood), works on the lives of Dalí and Picasso, and more than twenty novels, as well as innumerable contributions to various media in Spain and the United States and lectures spread across three continents. Some of his published works predate his arrival at Emory, one of which, El asesino de César, was awarded El Premio Ciudad de Barcelona (1959). This literary prize was the forerunner of many others awarded to Rojas’ novels: Premio Selecciones de Lengua Española, 1963 (La ternura del hombre invisible); Premio Nacional de Literatura, 1968 (Auto de fe); Premio Planeta, 1973 (Azaña); Premio Ateneo de Sevilla, 1977 (Memorias inéditas de José Antonio Primo de Rivera); Premio Nadal, 1980 (El Ingenioso Hidalgo y poeta Federico García Lorca asciende a los infiernos. This work is scheduled to be published in 2013 as The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico García Lorca Ascends to Hell, translated by Edith Grossman. A number of his works have been translated into English, French, German, Hungarian, and several Slavic languages. A non-fictional work, El mundo mítico y mágico de Picasso received the Premio Espejo de España in 1984.

The creative and ingenious nature of the works of Carlos Rojas inspired an inordinate number of critical essays on his work, including several dissertations and many articles. Perhaps the most comprehensive example is a Festschrift, Literatura, arte, historia y mito en la obra de Carlos Rojas (1998), edited by Cecilia Castro Lee. The book contains contributions from a number of distinguished scholars from South America, Spain, and the United States.

Carlos Rojas’ academic career was enlivened by his interest in and knowledge of art, a motif that embellished his lectures and his writings. He is, as well, an esteemed artist who says of his collage collection, Dark Night of the Soul: “In the end it was my intent, I assume, to produce an ekphrastic blending of poetry, painting, and collage with the assistance of that objective chance so dear to the surrealists.”  This collection was one several one-man shows Rojas has presented and he has also contributed to collaborative exhibits at Emory and abroad. Many of his collages have homes in private collections in the United States and in other countries and some have been selected as book and journal illustrations.

Some of Professor Rojas’ private papers, donated in 2006, are part of the Emory University Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL). The introduction to the Rojas Manuscript collection concludes with the following summary:

“Rojas’ work is an impassioned dialog with Spanish history, art, and literature, whose major figures—Cervantes, Charles II the Bewitched, Alfonso XII, Velázquez, Goya, García Lorca, Dalí, Picasso, Unamuno, Azaña, Godoy—protagonize many of his novels. His writing is full of insights on the Spanish conditions. These insights build up from work to work and organize themselves into a generalized vision of Spain that is at once tragic and farcical, exasperated and devoted: passionate, in a word.
“But professor Rojas’ books go beyond any narrow engagement with a specific national tradition. His interests are ecumenical, his cultural references broad, and the themes of his novels universal. The rhetorical form of his novels, moreover, while partaking in the great Hispanic tradition of Cervantes, Calderón, Unamuno, and Borges, knows no national boundaries. The ambiguous density of Rojas’ novels is due in no small measure to the rhetoric of mirrors, dreams, metafiction, illusion, theatre, and to an unusually rich command of the Spanish language.”