Just over a year ago this exceptional, lucid, committed, wise man passed away. Although I paid him homage on another post on my blog Thoughts, I would also like to share traits about his life and work on this one.
Born in Barcelona in 1917, in a family with Cuban, Filipine, Algerian and Swiss references, he spent his childhood and early adolescence in Tangier, to be mobilized later, due to the Spanish Civil War, to Melilla, Guadalajara, Cuenca and parts of Catalonia. In Melilla, he was a customs officer. In those years, moreover, he was already writing poetry and fisnished his first novel, ‘The Statue of Adolfo Espejo’ (to be published, however, in 1994).
Being by then a prominent economist and having married and fathered a child, he was appointed advisor to the Minister of Trade and, years later, Professor of Economic Structure at the University Complutense of Madrid. As a teacher, he wrote books on economics and served as visiting professor at British universities of Salford and Liverpool, and US’ Bryn Mawr. He combined this activity with positions in the Foreign Bank and the Ministry of Finance. He was elected senator in the first democratic Cortes.
The 80s of last century meant the beginning of a successful literary career for Sampedro, with books as celebrated as ‘The Etruscan Smile’, ‘October, October’ or ‘The Lesbian Lover’. In 1990, he entered the Royal Spanish Academy of Language. That same year, he married for the second time.
A very lucid and adapted to the times man, he was an example of humanism and criticized the decline of the capitalist system and values in Western countries. Thus, in Castilian he prefaced the book that inspired the movement 15M, ‘Outrage!’ by Stephane Hessel. He received numerous awards, most notably the Order of Arts of Spain 2011.
José Luis Sampedro said:
Time is not gold; time is life.
The system is broken and lost, so you have a future.
We are nature. Putting money as supreme good leads us to catastrophe.
Do we have plenty of time to live, or do we ask constantly to be lived? We have not learnt to live!
There is one thing that worries me – how basic values are being destroyed. I am not speaking of human rights but of justice, dignity, freedom, which are constitutive of civilization.
We should live as often as trees, which cast a bad year with new leaves and start again.
Because it is bottoming out, even in the bitterness and degradation, where you get to know who you are, and then start having your feet on the ground.
Does it matter if my mouth is shut –when you think with your soul you are listened to!
Life is a flame – he who does not burn does not live.
I wish you a very nice week,