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La Colmena

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  3,296 Ratings  ·  112 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, 380 pages
Published (first published 1951)
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Eduardo García Montes Posiblemente asesinar inintencionadamente a Margot

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Aug 16, 2014 Jay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2014 Cristian Mihai rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 24, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Vit Babenco
Oct 14, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The morning unfolds slowly; it creeps like a caterpillar over the hearts of the men and women in the city.”
And the city is the hive where its dwellers swarm similar to bees trying to survive, succeed, prosper…
And the city is the tomb where its denizens suffocate helplessly trying to escape…
Brutal poverty and celestial poetry, pure love and scabrous lechery, crepuscular wishes and fiery desires – the contrasts rule the human minds.
The human hive is overwhelmed with the anguish of the living. And
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
Apr 21, 2014 Dahiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Ángel Rodríguez
Madrid en los años de la posguerra. Olor a tabaco y café, estraperlo, miradas de desconfianza, hambre y desaliento. Camilo José Cela retrata en esta obra las penurias e incertidumbre de un pueblo carente de expectativas de futuro mediante el uso de un estilo literario directo, sin adornos, y con una estructura caleidoscópica que salta entre unos personajes relacionados entre sí.

La novela se desarrolla en múltiples localizaciones de la capital, principalmente bares, domicilios familiares y casas
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 liked it  ·  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
The setting in "The Hive" is Madrid, Spain in early 40's. After the Spanish civil war and during WW2, this is a fine portrait of Spanish society. There is no specific plot, nor a main hero. The main hero I guess is Madrid itself through the everyday life of its people. Decades of characters starring within the lines of this book, most of them belong to low class and some in middle class. I think it's a clear and honest reading and probably very realistic one, clearly a social novel, while the po ...more
Dani Acm
Nov 27, 2014 Dani Acm rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A mucha gente le gusta este libro, a mi sinceramente, me parece una puta mierda.
Feb 03, 2016 Rutger marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: en-español
"En el café de doña Rosa, como en todos, el público de la hora del café no es el mismo que el público de la hora de merendar. Todos son habituales, bien es cierto, todos se sientan en los mismos divanes, todos beben en los mismos vasos, toman el mismo bicarbonato, pagan en iguales pesetas, aguantan idénticas impertinencias a la dueña, pero, sin embargo, quizás alguien sepa por qué, la gente de las tres de la tarde no tiene nada que ver con la que llega dadas las siete y media; es posible que lo ...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
May 09, 2010 Jonathan yates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Michael David
I planned to read this novel for a long time. I think it's probably been almost ten years since I discovered this novel. I recall I was still in university when I stumbled upon Cela: one of my roommates in the dormitory then was reading The Family of Pascual Duarte, but I sought to read his masterpiece. I eventually discovered that Cela was a Nobel laureate in literature, and the Nobel website wrote that this novel, The Hive, was Cela's great work. It was only a month ago, however, that I stumbl ...more
Czarny Pies
Feb 21, 2016 Czarny Pies rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ceux qui ont adoré Berlin Alexanderplatz ou Manhattan Transfer
Shelves: spanish-lit
La ruche est un roman sur le bas-fonds de la société espagnole en 1943 qui ressemble parfois à "Manhattan Transfer" de John Dos Passos et parfois à "Berlin Alexanderplatz" d'Alfrèd Doblin. L'intrigue de la Ruche est melé au point où on peut dire qu'elle est absente. Le roman est composé en effect d'un grand nombre de petites épisodes qui ont toutes moins que deux pages de longeur. Le but d'après l'auteur est de permettre au lecteur de toucher l'ulcère du monde. Le roman ne semble pas avoir de pa ...more
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.
Christian Mora
Jun 19, 2016 Christian Mora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro realmente interesante que nos retrata la sociedad madrileña de las postguerra, a mi manera de ver la cantidad de personajes que se retratan en cad auna de las paginas, hace de esta una historia muy bien lograda, aunque por esa misma razon el lector puede llegar a sentir que la historia es un retrato de la conducta humana de la epoca.
Bianca Delmenico
Ha estat molt interessant haver pogut veure l'estil de Camilo José Cela, no obstant això, el contingut m'ha avorrit una mica...
Maritza Buendia
Jan 20, 2015 Maritza Buendia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambientada en la España triste, desolada y sórdida de la posguerra (1943), La colmena nos cuenta la vida de numerosos personajes, muchos para recordar o para seguir el hilo de sus historias, cosa que produce cierto agobio en el lector. Un relato donde se describen los comportamientos de los personajes con cierta indiferencia y sin detalles como para que uno saque sus propias conclusiones. En La colmena existe un ambiente general de apatía ante los acontecimientos de la época; aquí reina el hambr ...more
Gijs Grob
In 'De bijenkorf' volgen we enkele dagen in 1942 het leven van talloze, over het algemeen arme Madrilenen in een enorme hoeveelheid fragmenten, vrijwel zinloos gerangschikt in een zestal hoofdstukken. Enkele personages komen meermalen terug, en diens levens blijken opvallend vervlochten, maar door de schier eindeloze stoet namen die voorbijtrekt en de summiere omschrijvingen die Cela ze meegeeft, blijken ze moeilijk te onthouden. Een bijkomstig nadeel is dat Cela getracht heeft 'het ware leven' ...more
Dec 28, 2008 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 23, 2009 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 28, 2009 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2016 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obra de mil personajes que al fin son uno sólo, 'La colmena' de Cela se maneja en las calles de la insignificancia, como si fuera ese charco embarrado que todos pisan mirando al frente. En Madrid, donde transcurren esos trozos de vida, todo es incoloro, ordinario, derrotista. No hay energía vital ni destino rosado. Es como si siempre fuera demasiado tarde. El protagonista de esta novela bien podría ser el tal Martín Marco, escritor al que nadie recuerda y que se desvive admirando los baños de un ...more
Dec 16, 2015 Alba rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Le quiero dar otra oportunidad más adelante. Me ha parecido una buena novela pero creo que debo leerla con más calma y en profundidad.
Jan 23, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
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.
Nov 24, 2013 Rafa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crónica desapegada del Madrid de la postguerra. Siendo joven, en la primera lectura, me había gustado, hoy me parece misógina.
Pedro Lima
Jan 05, 2011 Pedro Lima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic after the afterwar period of Spain, through the life of a cafe in Madrid a variety of characters.
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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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“Escuece darse cuenta de que las gentes siguen pensando que la literatura, como el violín, no hace daño a nadie.” 3 likes
“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…” 2 likes
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