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La colmena

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,157 ratings  ·  65 reviews
En el Madrid de la posguerra, un bullicioso enjambre humano se afana en comer caliente, esquivar el frío, saciar el deseo sexual, librarse de la tuberculosis, matar el tiempo..., ir tirando. Seguramente la obra más valiosa de Cela. Un testimonio fiel de la vida cotidiana en las calles, cafés y alcobas del Madrid de 1943, pero también una amarga crónica existencial.
Paperback, 447 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Editorial Espasa Calpe (first published 1951)
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Jay
I first learned about Camilo José Cela in my salad days, in Spain. He was a towering figure (“complex and theatrical” noted one biographer) whose literary production—works like La familia de Pascal Duarte and La colmena—represented significant milestones in post-war Spanish literature. His membership in the Real Academia Española and his involvement with the journal, Papeles de Son Armadans, which often featured authors not always sympathetic to the Franco dictatorship, only added to his stature...more
Cristian Mihai
Camilo Jose Cela once said, "I'm translated - what can I do about it- in every language, and I have never received an award." Of course, he was being his usual self, witty and a bit arrogant, because he did receive awards. Virtually every single award he was entitled to: The Nobel Prize, Cervantes, Premio de Principe Asturias, and many more.

A very controversial figure, especially during his latter years, Cela has never been afraid to experiment with his stories. The Hive, his masterpiece, introd...more
Chris
I taught English in Madrid for three years starting in about 2004 and on probably the first or second day of my first class I asked my students to recommend me a good Spanish novel. Almost unanimously they responded that "La Colmena" (or "The Hive" in English) was the best Spanish novel of the 20th century. I couldn't wait to read it and start digging my teeth into the Spanish culture, particularly the Franco Era, which was something I was curious about and really eager to learn more. My Spanish...more
Andrew
The Hive starts out so bloody CUTE. It's a bunch of misfits gathering in this little Madrid cafe drinking vermouth and writing poems for no one. Like the cafe in Amelie. Awww. But then you realize that it's Franco's Spain, which makes it a bit darker. Remarkably, not too much darker. Somehow, despite the fact that everyone's poor and desperate, Cela manages to keep his characters' chins up the entire time, and it doesn't feel like some artificial ruling class notions about the "contentedness" of...more
Aitziber
La Colmena (The Hive in English) could easily be compared to a puzzle. The story, told in six chapters and an epilogue, is not told chrnologically (one of the features that quickly endears me to a book) and the cast of 160-something characters all belong to roughly the same social circle, despite belonging to different social classes. It is now up to a dedicated reader to create the multi-branched cast tree for the uninitiated to jump in.

Despite being born in Spain, my knowledge of Spanish Liter...more
Makenzie
I had heard that this book was both confusing and boring, but I loved it. It has a lot of characters (my copy says "almost 300"), and skips from one to the other, making flipping through the book to remind yourself of who a certain character is necessary fairly often, or at least it was for me. I knew it was going to be this way going into it, so it didn't bother me much. Cela is a master of his craft, though, and even though I do not like marking my books, there were many passages that I though...more
Chris Herdt
Jul 20, 2008 Chris Herdt rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: Miranda
If I may be so crass as to compare the narrative of a Nobel laureate with a popular movie, it reminded me of Pulp Fiction: The Hive is made up of hundreds of short sections (many less than a page), not all of which are told in order, most of which are quite dark, and many of which are left unresolved. There are so many characters that it is sometimes difficult to keep them all straight until a detail jogs one's memory.

If there is one message that stuck in my mind from this book, it is that the p...more
Geoffrey Fox
Madrid, invierno de 1943, es una colmena donde diversos personajes siguen sus instintos y tímidos deseos, tratando de sobrevivir con algún rasgo de dignidad bajo el frío, la pobreza y la represión de los recién victoriosos franquistas. Sus vidas entrecruzan en el café "La Delicia" de la repugnante y gritona doña Rosa, el bar "Aurora" del anarquista y veterano del ejército republicano Celestino Ortiz (que puso ese nombre al bar porque es gran admirador del libro Aurora de Nietzsche, que lee como...more
Jonathan yates
This book was really good, it took me about 60 pages to get into it and i almost put it down several times. The protagonist or antogonist of the story is Madrid itself, and it's a story of sadness and hope all together, the great human ball of experience. Very well done, i left wanting more. I liked the translation i read, i have had problems reading other books of Cela's and I have felt that they where not bad because of the writing, but perhaps because of the translation.

Berenice Gutierrez
Un novelón. Verdaderamente una radiografía, o serie de biopsias de la España de mediados del siglo XX. El hambre, el conformismo, la censura, el miedo, la pobreza y pereza son magníficamente representadas. Recomiendo que adquieran la edición de Cátedra, ya que viene con un pequeño anexo con la lista de los personajes, ya que por la cantidad se puede hacer necesaria. Si les gustó La Regenta amarán La Colmena.
Bryan
Welcome to post-Civil War Spain; this book is great and was banned throughout Europe years ago. Cela weaves over 100 characters in but you won't get lost, this is an experienced writer who knows how to lead the reader. Brilliant...astounding...those descriptions work well. Read it.
Jonathan
This is an interesting slice of life showing the comings and goings of various characters in Madrid in the 50s under Franco's regime. The reader gets the sense that life is hard and somewhat grim, but that it is life nonetheless.
Christopher
If you believe life is a marriage of pieces of individual cloths sown into a greater tapestry, this book has several short stories all around the same area that creates an enjoyable glimpse into all the levels of a community
Dahiana Acosta
Este debe ser el libro con más personajes que le leído en mi vida! y mira que en Cien Años de Soledad hay gente!! De la forma que esta escrito te hace sentir como si fueras un espectador en medio de toda esa actividad en la que confluyen las historias.

Ambientada en la España de la Posguerra, 1943, consta solo de 6 capítulos, en los que se narran las vicisitudes que pasaban los Españoles de la época, la confluencia de clases sociales, creencias, costumbres, en la que se va tejiendo una historia d...more
Katie
This was the second time I read it and plan to read it again- I love the complexity of the characters and the intertwined plot lines.
Pedro Lima
A classic after the afterwar period of Spain, through the life of a cafe in Madrid a variety of characters.
Frank
struck me as quite boring
Belen
Terminé ayer esta relectura, practicamente lectura porque mi ies como la de Bob Esponja, de la Colmena con un cabreo monumental. Creí totalmente que al libro le quedaba un buen rato y cuando se acabó de esa forma abrupta, abierta y en pleno cliffhanger para mí, me enfadé muchísimo.

No sé porqué con algunas novelas me meto tanto en la historia que huelo el aire que ellos respiran. El humo y el poco oxigenado del café, el aire helado de las calles madrileñas por las que deambulan o el olor a ceboll...more
Howard
This is the second major novel in English translation by Cela after he wrote Pascal Duarte (his first in 1942). This novel was written in 1951 and is based around the events centred on a run-of-the-mill Madrid café during the war 1943ish. The premise of the style of the story, which Cela was to extend and improve on, is short passages, interwoven characters, retrospectives and mixed up events - with a general thread/flow of a narrative - a mix of Faulkner, Jorge Amado and Perec perhaps?

So the st...more
Ppepyl
“La Colmena” del escritor español, Camilo José Cela – 1916- 2002) edita esta novela en Buenos Aires, por el año de 1951, ya que en su natal España la censura de la época impedía la vida a la obra y su autor, no solo por el ambiente de guerra que aún se sentía muy vivo, sino que aborda temáticas sexuales, homosexuales, pobreza y términos que el franquismo no aceptaba fuera consultados por el pueblo español. Empero la estructura externa está compuesta de seis capítulos y un epílogo. Cada capítulo...more
Wendy
One of the things that intrigues me about Cela is how relentlessly experimental he is in developing new forms for fiction. I wish I could think that an American writer with that sort of bent could become THE American writer, as Cela became THE Spanish writer of his generation. Cela's experiments didn't prevent his books' being widely read, so widely read that the Franco regime had to ban them. He prefigured the Oulipo's structures in some books, but no one seems to have noticed that. This book i...more
Ali
Se vorbeste despre difritele vieti patetice/bunicele ale oamenilor din Spania surprinse in peisajul Madrid-ului franchist. Exact cum insinueaza si titlul, se descrie "roiul" de personaje, constituit dintr-un numar de aprx. 300 de personaje. Segmentele din viata fiecaruia se desfasoara pe parcursul a 3 zile, dar aceste segmente sunt impartite in alte segmente scrise in cateva pagini, uneori chiar cateva randuri ,care sunt amestecate intre ele. Ordinea haotica a semisegmentelor amestecate aiurea...more
El Segoviano
Aunque hace tiempo que la leí la recuerdo bastante bien, posiblemente porque luego hicieron una película basada en la novela.
Retrata perfectamente el ambiente madrileño posterior a la guerra civil y mezcla una serie de historias paralelas con un importante contenido social y humano, ademas de estar muy bien escrita con estupendos dialogos, en mi modesta opinión.
Biblioteca Lardero
En el Madrid de la posguerra, un bullicioso enjambre humano se afana en comer caliente, esquivar el frío, saciar el deseo sexual, librarse de la tuberculosis, matar el tiempo..., ir tirando. Seguramente la obra más valiosa de Cela. Un testimonio fiel de la vida cotidiana en las calles, cafés y alcobas del Madrid de 1943, pero también una amarga crónica existencial.
Ollie
Таки домучила свій білінгвальний довгочит. Це моя друга книжка іспанською із словником і звірянням із російськомовним перекладом. Сюжет і реалізм Сели мене якось не вразили, якби не Нобель і не обіцянка собі цю книгу дочитати, я б її давно вже полишила. Принаймні, якби почала читати переклад окремо, то точно полишила б. Однак структура роману із окремих коротеньких епізодів із життя ста шістдесяти з гаком персонажів, які бігають вулицями, зустрічаються одне із одним, заходять у одні і і самі міс...more
Leticia
"Flota en el aire como un pesar que se va clavando en los corazones. Los corazones no duelen y pueden sufrir, hora tras hora, hasta toda una vida, sin que nadie sepamos nunca, a ciencia cierta, qué es lo que pasa".

---

Un chico de la vecindad que es poeta y que mira a la muchacha con una ternura profunda, trata en vano de explicar a su familia, a la hora de la comida:
-Vosotros no os dais cuenta, pero a mí estas tiendas pequeñitas y recoletas que se llaman Trini, ¡me producen una nostalgia!
-Este ch...more
Matt Lewis
I was a little unsure of this book at the beginning, but once you get into the flow of Cela's multi-character storyline, you will fly through the pages. He perfectly captures the desperation and ennui of civil war-era Madrideños with the peeks into their varied lives and states of mind. Far from being culturally or temporally specific, he is able to tell the small or grand stories of the all the characters (some of which may be persistent throughout or only exist for a few lines) with a contempo...more
Rebeca illescas
161 characters! Of course with all those People it's hard to follow. However I enjoyed the vocabulary and the way the author made me feel, like he was talking to me. Very personal narrative
Juan Chaves
Un libro interesante, un poco denso en cuanto a personajes con un buen final.
Krisette Spangler
Well, I really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book. It's a very interesting writing style, as the story is told in small vignettes of approximately 100 people. The setting is Madrid after the civil war, and the people are poor and living under a dictator. The book basically covers a day in the life of the common person, but by the time we got to night there was too much about their nocturnal activities. Many of the women turned to prostitution in order to survive, so you can imagine. Anyhow, I did...more
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  • Tiempo de silencio
  • Marks of Identity
  • Los pazos de Ulloa
  • El cuarto de atrás
  • La Regenta
  • El árbol de la ciencia
  • El camino
  • Nada
  • La tía Tula
  • Réquiem por un campesino español
  • Luces de Bohemia
  • Misericordia
  • Platero y yo
  • Historia de la vida del Buscón
  • La ciudad de los prodigios
  • Campos de Castilla
  • Solitude
  • Pepita Jiménez
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Camilo José Cela Trulock was a Spanish writer. Prolific author (as a novelist, journalist, essayist, literary magazine editor, lecturer ...), he was a member of the Royal Spanish Academy for 45 years and won, among others, the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 1987, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1989 ("for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challengin...more
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“La noche se cierra, al filo de la una y media o de las dos de la madrugada, sobre el extraño corazón de la ciudad. Miles de hombres se duermen abrazados a sus mujeres sin pensar en el duro, en el cruel día que quizás les espere, agazapados como un gato montés, dentro de tan pocas horas. Cientos y cientos de bachilleres caen en el íntimo, en el sublime y delicadísimo vicio solitario. Y algunas docenas de muchachas esperan —¿qué esperan, Dios mío?, ¿por qué las tienes tan engañadas?— con la mente llena de dorados sueños…” 0 likes
“Flota en el aire como un pesar que se va clavando en los corazones. Los corazones no duelen y pueden sufrir, hora tras hora, hasta toda una vida, sin que nadie sepamos nunca, demasiado a ciencia cierta, qué es lo que pasa.” 0 likes
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