Clara Janés was born in Barcelona in 1940, the daughter of the poet and lecturer Josep Janés. She studied Philosophy and Literature at the Universities of Barcelona and Pamplona, and later Comparative Literature and Czech at the Sorbonne in Paris. She has lived in Madrid ever since.
Clara Janés’s literary work displays an unusual diversity. While she is particularly well known as a poet, her numerous publications also include novels, essays, biographies (‘La vida callada de Federico Mompou’, 1975; Engl: The Silent Life of Federico Mompou), autobiographical narrations (‘Jardín y Laberinto’, 1990; Engl: Garden and Labyrinth), travel reports and translations. In her translation work, she has concentrated in particular on Czech poetry (above all on Vladimír Holan) but has also translated from French (Marguerite Duras, Nathalie Sarraute) and English (Katherine Mansfield, William Golding). She has recently devoted herself to Persian and Turkish verse. Moreover, she has published the works of various Spanish authors and, in the year 2001, also a Spanish edition of a volume of poetry by Johannes Bobrowski, translated by her daughter Adriana. Janés has received several awards for her poetry and for prose and translations alike; she was awarded the renowned Premio Jaime Gil de Biedma in 2002. Her works have been translated into just under twenty languages, including Arabic, Persian and Icelandic. Clara Janés belongs to Spanish literature’s feminist avantgarde, which has gained in importance since the 80’s and established itself in a hitherto male-dominated Spanish society that is characterized by an indelible Catholicism. Her poems in particular reflect her constant preoccupation with her own dual role as woman and poet. If she approached this topic in her initial poems (‘Las estrellas vencidas’, 1964; Engl: The Defeated Stars) under a rather general perspective, she plumbed the depths of femininity in the following decades in ever more intimate ways. The collection ‘Kampa’ (1986, written in the 70’s) is considered to be the turning point toward an assertive erotic literature in which the author links female self-confidence with erotic fulfillment for the first time. This vein is continued in ‘Eros’ (1981) and ‘Vivir’ (1983, Engl: Life) with such explicitness and desire that Rosa Chacel called Janés “one of the great love poets”. In her more recent texts she also examines and re-examines new variants of the relationship between the feminine self, the body, sensuality and eroticism – for example in the connection between Eros and death in ‘Arcángel de sombra’ (1998, Engl: Archangel of the Shadow).
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