by Ante Glibota

WHO'S WHO IN THE WORLD 2000 17th Edition

The Spanish author Fernando Arrabal was born in Melilla (Spanish Morocco) on August 11, 1932, shortly before the Civil War was to tore his country apart. His father, officer of the Spanish Army , is sentenced to death at the beginning of the Civil War for being opposed to the military coup. His sentence is commuted to hard labour for life. He is transferred to different jails, escapes from the last one on November 4, 1941 and disappears forever.

The trauma created by this tragedy marks Fernando Arrabal 's life and work "... the knowledge brought by Arrabal is tinged with a moral light which belongs to the very substance of his art".
(Vicente Aleixandre, Nobel Prize).

Fernando Arrabal has published 12 novels (among which the autobiographical Baal Babylone - Viva la muerte in 1959), 6 collections of poems, nearly 70 plays (till now, his complete theater has been published in 19 volumes in France), 16 essays and epistles (among which the famous Letter to General Franco, published during the dictator's lifetime), nearly 150 books for bibliophiles and poems illustrated by Dalí, Picasso, Saura, Olivier O. Olivier, Dorny, Cortot, Pouperon, Fassianos...

He has directed 7 full-length films, the last one of which devoted to Jorge Luis Borges and entitled Jorge Luis Borges - Una vita de poesia, has just been released .

In 1962 Fernando Arrabal founds the "Panic Movement" together with Roland Topor and Alexandro Jodorowsky. "Panic" comes from the God Pan, the All. The "Panic" man was a man of total refusal, refusal of all danger, he did not expose himself and did not die a hero's death.

Although he is one of the most "controversial" writers, he has received many international prizes and distinctions. His work has been translated in most languages (he is notably one of the French speaking authors that is the most translated in Europe). The sun never sets on his plays among the most performed in the world.

His multiple activities are also expressed in the plastic arts. He has been exploring these through a profusion of sculptures, paintings, collages, drawings, of which many exhibitions and retrospectives have been held in galleries and museums in different countries.

"Merrily playful, rebellious and unconventional, Arrabal's work is the syndrome of our century of barbed wires and camps. : a way to keep in reprieve".
(Dictionnary of French language literatures).

When he is not travelling all over all the continents to give lectures, to attend performances of his plays, "to take note" of the world's state and to defend human rights where they are flouted, Fernando Arrabal lives and works in Paris.


Detailed chronolgy of Fernando Arrabal by Ante Glibota


Birth of Fernando Arrabal Teran on August 11 in Melilla (Spanish Morocco) where his father, Officer of the Spanish Army, is temporarily settled.


Arrabal's father is arrested because he refuses to join the military coup. He is sentenced to death and is then transferred to the Burgos jail. Fernando Arrabal, his brother Julio, his sister Maria del Carmen and their mother leave Melilla to settle in Ciudad Rodrigo in the home of the maternal grand-father.


Arrabal's family settles in Madrid.


Arrabal enters the Escolapios Fathers' school in Getafe near Madrid. This high school is famed for the quality of its literary teachings


His father escapes from jail in mysterious circumstances and is never heard of again.
Fernando Arrabal wins a competition reserved for exceptionally gifted pupils. (Premio de Superdotado).


He starts writing short scenes inspired by family life and poems in the manner of the Romantics.
In Madrid, Arrabal leads a marginal life and discovers the great comedy movies of that time.


He goes to Tolosa to enter the Paper Industry School.
He writes his first plays.


He passes the Baccalaureate examination at Valencia, while working in a paper factory.


Back in Madrid he frequents the Ateneo and founds an Academy where he reads his first works : The Roof, The Hay Waggon, The Incurable wood (unpublished).
He starts to study law and meets with the Postist Poets.
He writes Picnic on the Battlefield.


First signs of tuberculosis appears with fever.
He writes The Tricycle.


He meets his future wife, Luce Moreau, for the first time.


He receives a three months scholarship to study in Paris and settles on the students' campus, but he falls ill and has to be sent to the Bouffemont sanatorium. He considers this event as a stroke of chance,which allows him to stay definitely in Paris.


Fernando Arrabal marries Luce Moreau, a Spanish literature teacher who starts translating his work into French. Publication of his plays Orison, The Two Executioners, Fando and Lis, The Automobile Graveyard, (Julliard Ed., Paris). He writes Baal Babylone (Viva la muerte), his first autobiographical novel. He settles in an apartment at 62 rue de la Pergolèse in the 16th district of Paris.


His first important play : Picnic on the Battlefield is performed for the first time in France, in Paris. He leaves for the United States where he receives a scholarship, as a writer, from the Ford Foundation and receives the "Recipient Award Ford Foundation", in New York. He travels through the United States. Publication of his novel Baal Babylone (Viva la muerte), (Julliard Ed., Paris).


First meeting with Topor and Jodorowsky.


Publication of his plays Guernica, The Labyrinth, The Tricycle, Picnic on the Battlefield, The Condemned Man's Bicycle, (Julliard Ed., Paris) and of his novel The Burial of a Sardine , (Julliard Ed., Paris).


With Topor and Jodorowsky he founds the "Panic Movement" (a name evoking the Greek God Pan). With Jean Benoît, he often sees André Breton's surrealist group.


In Sydney, Australia, he gives his famous lecture about the Panic Man. In collaboration with three Spanish figurative painters : Arnaiz, Crespo and Felez, he begins a series of dreamlike paintings illustrating his life. Miró visits him and he meets César and the artists from the "Nouveau Réalisme".
Publication of his collection of poems The Madness Stone, (Julliard Ed., Paris).


Victor Garcia very successfully stages several plays by Arrabal, followed by Jorge Lavelli, Peter Brook, Jérôme Savary, Georges Vitaly... He begins seeing Salvador Dalí who suggests to him that they write together a cybernetic play...


Publication of his plays The Grand Ceremonial, Ceremony for a Murdered Black, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris), and Ceremony for a Goat on a Cloud, (Daily Bul Ed.) and of his collection of poems A Hundred Sonnets, (El Ultimo Parnaso Ed. Saragossa).
He receives the Lugné-Poë Prize for Theater, (France).


He leaves his flat rue de Pergolèse and settles boulevard de Strasbourg. Christian Bourgois becomes his regular publisher and publishes The Crowning and Concert in an Egg. Publication of his novel Feasts and Rites of Confusion, (Alfaguara Ed., Madrid, Barcelona). Yukio Mishima invites him to Japan to attend the unique performance of his antihitlerian play Hitler was right.


He goes to Spain where he is arrested after writing a dedication considered "blasphemous" to the government on a copy of his book Arrabal Celebrating the Ceremony of Confusion. International protest by, among others, Beckett, Mauriac, Ionesco, Miller.. soon leads to his release.
Publication of his plays The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria, Impossible Loves, The Four Cubes, The Solemn Communion, Stripease of Jealousy, Youth Illustrated, Has God Gone Mad?, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris). Lavelli staged The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria which achieves great success.
He receives the "Grand Prix du Théâtre", (France)


Publication de ses livres Le Panique, (Ed. Union Générale d'Edition, Paris) et Le New-York d'Arrabal, (Ed. Balland, Paris).
Voyage en Iran à Chiraz à l'occasion d'un spectacle de Bob Wilson. Aménage dans l'appartement du 22 rue Jouffroy dans le 17ème arrondissement de Paris.
La représentation du Grand cérémonial au théâtre Opus de Rome constitue un événement médiatique considérable en Italie.


Publication of his plays Garden of Delights, Erotic Bestiality, A Tortoise named Dostoevski, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris). He travels in Mexico with Jim Morrison. He participates in the sit-in at the "Théâtre de l'Odéon" and the Spanish Pavilion in Paris during the "May events".
He receives the "Grand prix de l'Humour Noir", (France).


Publication of his plays ...And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers, Dawn : Red and Black (Groupuscule of my Heart; All the Perfumes of Arabia; Under the Pavement the Beach; The Little Cages), The Lay of Barabbas (TheCrowning), (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris). Banning of his plays in Spain by Franco's Police. Friendship with Pier Paolo Pasolini and long discussions on theater.


Birth of his daughter Lélia on January 14. Filming of Viva la muerte with Nuria Esperts and Anouk Ferjac.
In February, Happening at the "Théâtre Plaisance" in Paris for the publication of the journal Le théâtre 1969-2 (Grand- Guignol).


Enthusiastic about Viva la muerte, John Lennon, goes to meet him at the Cannes Festival, whistling the music of the film. Pablo Picasso paints a work for him entitled Viva la vida and asks Luis Buñuel to bring this gift to Arrabal. He moves and settles 2 rue de Vienne in the 8th district of Paris.
Laurence Olivier, in charge of the National Theater in London, puts The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria on his program. Arrabal now attains a worldwide success.


Birth of his son Samuel on July 15.
He directs I Will Go Like a Crazy Horse with Emmanuelle Riva and Clark Shannon.
Publication of his two "Panic" operas Ars Amandi and God Tempted by Mathematics, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris), of his plays Heaven and Crap and The Twentieth Century Review, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris) and of his book Letter to General Franco, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris). Clives Barnes writes a raving review about the play...And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers in the New York Times. He meets TennesseeWilliams, Gore Vidal and Truman Capote during his stay in New york.


Publication of the books The Panic , (Union Générale d'Édition, Paris) and Arrabal's New York, (Balland Ed.,
Travels to Chiraz in Iran to attend a performance by Bob Wilson. He moves into the flat 22 rue Jouffroy in the 17th district of Paris.The performance of The Grand Ceremonial at the Opus Theater in Roma creates a considerable stir in Italian medias.


He travels to Japan where one of his play is performed at the No Theater. He then goes to the United States and gives many lectures in American Universities (in California, at the Cornwell University, at the State University of New York...).
Publication of his book About Fisher : Introduction to Chess,
(du Rocher Ed., Monaco).


Filming of his third full-length film : The Guernica Tree with Maria Angela Melato and Ron Faber.
Publication of his play Today's Young Barbarians,
(Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris).


After the death of Franco, Arrabal is among the six Spanish personalities prohibited from entering their own country, together with Rafael Alberti, Santiago Carrillo, La Pasionaria, El Campesino and Lister.
Publication of his play The One Thousand Years War (Bella Ciao) and On the High Wire or The Ballad of the Phantom Train, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris).
He receives the "Obie Award" (Theater), (New York).


First performance of Steal me a Million, the first of the three vaudevilles constituing his Theater Bouffe. He gives a series of lectures at the Toronto University.


Publication of his plays The Tower of Babel (Oyez Patria mi affliccion), The Royal March, An Orange on Mount Venus, The Pictorial Glory, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris), of his collection of Theater Bouffe including Steal me a Million, The Pastaga of the Loufs or Orangoutan Opening and Punk and Punk and Colegram, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris) and of his book Letter to the Spanish Communist Militants, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris).
He directs a short film entitled Spain for the French TV channel "Antenne 2".


Publication of his play Inquisición, (Don Quijote Ed., Granada).
Milko Kelemen and Edmund Kieselbach present Apokalyptica, a ballet-opera inspired by an Arrabal's text.


Publication of his plays My Devastated Sweet Kingdom, The King of Sodome, Heaven and Crap II, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris), and of his book Libertarian and Fairy Chess (Chronicles from the magazine L'Express), (du Rocher Ed., Monaco).
He directs a new full-length film in Canada The Odyssey of the Pacific with Mickey Rooney and Monique Leclerc.


Filming of his fifth full-length film : The Automobile Graveyard with Juliet Berto and Alain Bashung.


Publication of his plays The Crazy Success of Jesus Christ, Karl Marx and William Shakespeare and Stand up and Dream, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris).


Publication of his play The Mare Horse or Tribute to John Kennedy T., of his novel The Tower Struck by Lightning, (Grasset Ed., Paris) and of his book Letter to Fidel Castro, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris).
He starts up an international campaign for the release of Cuban writers put in jail by Castro, and among others Armando Valladares.
He is named "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres", (French Distinction).


Publication of his plays Love Breviary of a Weight Lifter, Apokalyptica and The Centaurs' Charge, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris), of his novel The Reverdie, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris) and of his collection of poems Humbles Paradises, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris).


In Ciudad Rodrigo he makes a speech presenting the author of tales of chivalry, Feliciano De Silva, as one of those who inspired Cervantes for his Don Quichotte. Publication of his novel The Red Virgin, (Acropole Ed., Paris).
Travels to Haiti where he meets the naïve painters.
Juan Carlos, King of Spain, awards him the "Medalla de Oro de las Bellas Artes".


He starts lecturing in Spain.
Jorge Camacho becomes his chess fellow.


Publication of his plays The "Cucarachas" from Yale, A Virgin for a Gorilla, The Red Madonna and The Crossing of the Empire, (Christian Bourgois Ed., Paris) and of his novel King Kong's Daughter, (Acropole Ed., Paris. He meets Garry Kasparov in Paris.


Publication of his play The Crazy Crusade of an Obese Revolutionary, (Phi Ed., Luxembourg) and of his novel The Crazy Crusade of a Castrato in Love, (Ramsay Ed., Paris).
He directs a short film Chess and Myth for the French TV channel "Antenne 2".


Publication of his plays Night is Also a Sun and The Wheel of Misfortune, (Actes Sud Ed.) and of his opera The Bastille Opera (written for the bicentennial of the French Revolution).


Simultaneous publications in five languages of his book
El Greco (The Frenetic of Spasm), (Flohic Ed., Paris).
He directs New York Babylone, a short film for the French TV channel "Antenne 2".
In Maastrich (Netherlands), he denounces the violence and the massacres against the Croatian population by the so-called "federal"Yugoslavian army before the Representatives of the European Community and 26.000 Croatian people living in various European countries.


He directs his 6th full-length film Goodbye Babylon!, with Spike Lee and Lélia Fischer.
Ante Glibota organizes at the Paris Art Center (Paris), the exhibition Arrabal Espace, showing together nearly 800 works of art, objects, books and films concerning Fernando Arrabal's life and work.
Publication of Works,Tome I (theater, poem, novel - book in Italian), (Spirali Vel Ed., Milan) and of his books Francisco Goya - Salvador Dalí, (Spirali Vel Ed., Milan and Studio di Val Cervo, Rome) and Feasts and Defeats on the Chessboard, (L'Archipel Ed., Paris). Creation of "Lirac Galaxy", with a manifesto including 49 personalities and creators from the artistic, literary and scientific fields.


Publication of his collections of poems Freedom Colour of Woman or Goodbye Babylon Cinematographic Poems, (Rougerie Ed., Mortemart) and Arrabalesques (Letters to Julius Baltazar), (Rougerie Ed., Mortemart) and of his books Genios y Figuras, (Espasa Calpe Ed., Madrid) and Carta a José María Aznar (con copia a Felipe González), (Espasa Calpe Ed., Madrid). He receives the "Prix de Théâtre de l'Académie Française", (France).


Ante Glibota publishes an important monograph of 542 pages including 1810 illustrations, entitled Arrabal Espace, which sums up all the artistic and literary creation by Fernando Arrabal until this date.
Publication of his plays Lully, Listen to the Sweet Night Walking and The Uncontrolled Laughter of the Lilliputians, (Actes Sud Ed.) and of his novels The Killer Woman from the Winter Garden, (Ecriture Ed., Paris), El Mono o el Enganchado al Caballo, (Planeta Ed., Barcelona) and La dudosa luz del día, (Espasa Calpe Ed., Madrid).
He receives the Gold Medal from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, the First Prize "Théâtre au Pluriel" (France), the International Nabokov Prize for Novel (Italy) and the "Premio Espasa de Ensayo" (Spain).


He receives the First prize "Théâtre de la Roseraie" (France),
the Gold Medal of the "Círculo de Bellas Artes" (Spain),
the Gold Medal of the City of Melilla.
He is promoted "Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres", (French Distinction).
Publication of his book Carta al Rey de España, (Espasa Calpe, Madrid).


Publication of his play Like a Lily Among Thorns, (Actes Sud Ed.) and of his book A Slave named Cervantes, (Espasa Calpe Ed., Madrid and Plon Ed., Paris).
He receives the "Prix du Centre National du Livre", (France) and the "Grand Prix de la Société des Gens de Lettres", (France).
Summer holidays in Ivan Dolac on the Hvar island.


Publication of the Complete Theater, (2 volumes in Spanish), (Espasa Calpe Ed., Madrid) and of his collection of poems Diez poemas pánicos y un cuento, (Caja Sur y Rute Ed., Cordoba).
Edition of a compact disc of the opera Picknick im Felde, music by Otfried Büsing, recorded with the Freiburg Orchestra, (Gravis Ed.).
He receives the "Grand Prix de la Ville d'Antibes", (France) and the "Medal of the Center of French Civilization and Culture", (New York University) and the Order of
"Marko Marulic", (Croatian State Distinction).
Summer holidays in Dubrovnik (Croatia) where the Theater Festival and the City render him homage


Publication of his plays Lettre d'amour et Comme un supplice chinois, (Ed. Actes Sud).
He receives the "Alessandro Mazoni" di Poesia, (Italie).
Exposition Arrabal Espace at the Galerie de L'Essor, Le Sentier, Vallée de Joux (Suisse).
Honorable guest of "Thespis'99" (Jerusalem International Festival of University Theatre).


Fernando Arrabals mother dies


(text edited in the book: GLIBOTA Ante, Arrabal Espace, París P.A.C., 1993)