Horacio Castellanos Moya leaves part of the manuscript of his novel 'Insensatez' to the Cervantes Institute in Madrid

The bequest will be kept for five years in box number 696
Salvadoran writer Horacio Castellanos Moya (left), accompanied by Luis García Montero, shows the first clean version of his novel 'Insensatez' (2004), before putting it in the safe deposit box 696

PHOTO/Instituto Cervantes/Fernando Gutiérrez  -   Salvadoran writer Horacio Castellanos Moya (left), accompanied by Luis García Montero, shows the first clean version of his novel 'Insensatez' (2004), before putting it in the safe deposit box 696

The Salvadoran writer Horacio Castellanos Moya deposited this Tuesday in the Caja de las Letras two of the few objects from his literary career that have survived his many changes of residence in different countries: the notebook containing part of the manuscript of his novel 'Insensatez', published in 2004, and the first clean version of the novel with all the handwritten corrections he made to it, including the change of title and epigraph.

The above-mentioned notebook is the third one he wrote from 'Insensatez' and starts from chapter 10. The two previous notebooks, with chapters 1 to 9, are lost. He explained the reason for this: "I have been a wandering writer, without home or house, the only country I have left is that of my memory; for this reason, the archive of my work is limited to three small boxes with a few manuscripts that have survived the many moves" that he has experienced. "These materials," he summed up, "are perhaps the most significant things I found in those little boxes".

This legacy, which the writer left in box number 696 in the vault of the Instituto Cervantes, will remain under lock and key until exactly five years from now, on 14 September 2026.

Horacio Castellanos Moya thanked the Cervantes Institute not only for the invitation on Tuesday, but also for supporting his career as a writer "since the beginning of this century, when my books began to be known". He recalled that his work has been presented at the Institute's venues in Germany, France, England, Austria, Japan and the United States, which is "an invaluable stimulus for a writer like me".

In a carefully read speech, he endorsed Borges' statement in 1976 that "Spain is generous", and stressed the importance of the work carried out by the Instituto Cervantes: "It is essential for the Spanish language and for authors", especially for writers from countries, such as his own, whose presence is "precarious in international literature", said Castellanos Moya, who is the author of twelve novels and several books of short stories and essays. His work has been translated into a dozen languages.  

The Spanish language," he added, "allows us to grow and project ourselves", and the Instituto Cervantes "plays an invaluable role as the most solid cultural platform for this language".

Violence, sex and desire

The director of the Cervantes praised him for "the literary and human quality that has always sustained his work as a writer, and as a chronicler and essayist who meditates on the cultural and social reality we inhabit". In particular, he highlighted his "commitment to lucidity, the recognition of many of the forces that determine our lives". "In his narrative, violence, sex and desire are very present, and this, thanks to his literary ability, allows him to meditate on the fundamentals of the human condition".

For Luis García Montero, the author is "a good representative of that Latin American literature that we could define as nomadic literature". Castellanos Moya, the son of a Honduran mother and Salvadoran father - although he spent his formative years in El Salvador - has lived in countries such as Germany, Canada and Spain. He currently lives in the United States, where he teaches at the University of Iowa. A university, García Montero recalled, which is a decisive point for Latin American literature, and which has recently recognised with its prize the poet and translator Martín López Vega, Director of the Cabinet of the Cervantes Institute, who studied in its classrooms.

García Montero insisted that the Cervantes works for "culture as an international twinning value". This work extends to all countries, but especially to Spanish-speaking countries, because it is essential, he said, "to take care of that treasure that unites us through history, which is the treasure of sharing a language". 

In this line of strengthening ties with the Spanish-speaking community, this week's special activity in the Caja de las Letras is framed in this line: in addition to the bequests on Monday (by the Nicaraguan Sergio Ramírez and the Cuban Leonardo Padura) and this Tuesday, on Thursday another bequest will be made by the Colombian Minister of Culture in recognition of her country's Caro y Cuervo Institute.

Sent by José Antonio Sierra, Hispanism advisor.