The Jerusalem Prize

1997 - Jorge Semprún Maura

Born: December 10, 1923, Madrid, Spain

Author's quote: "I'm in prison because I'm a free man, because I found it necessary to excersise my freedom, because I acccepted this necessity."

Field: Author, Screenwriter, Politician

Prize share: 1/1

Books Written By Jorge Semprún

About Jorge Semprún

Jorge Semprún Maura was born in 1923 in Madrid. His mother was Susana Maura Gamazo, a daughter of Antonio Maura, who served several times as prime minister of Spain. His father José María Semprún Gurrea (1893–1966) was a liberal politician and governor in the Republic of Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

In the wake of Republican defeat in the Civil War, the Semprun family moved to France, and then to The Hague. His father was a diplomat in the mission of the "Spanish Republic in the Netherlands" up to the beginning of 1939. After the Netherlands officially recognized the Franco government, the family returned to France as refugees. Jorge Semprún enrolled at the Lycée Henri IV and later the Sorbonne.

During the Nazi occupation of France, as a young man Semprún joined the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans – Main-d'Œuvre Immigrée (FTP-MOI), a Resistance organization made up mostly of immigrants. After joining the Spanish Communist Party in 1942 in France, Semprun was reassigned to the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP), the Communist armed Resistance. In 1943 he was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Buchenwald concentration camp for his role in the Resistance. He deals with the experiences in two books: Le grand voyage (1963) treats the journey to Buchenwald, and Quel beau dimanche! (1980) his camp experiences.

In 1945 Semprun returned to France and became an active member of the exiled Communist Party of Spain (PCE). From 1953 to 1962, he was an important organizer of the PCE's clandestine activities in Spain, using the pseudonym of Federico Sánchez. He entered the party's executive committee in 1956. In 1964 he was expelled from the party because of "differences regarding the party line," and from then on he concentrated on his writing career.

Semprun wrote many novels, plays, and screenplays, for which he received several nominations, including an Oscar in 1970, and awards, including the 1997 Jerusalem Prize. He was a screenwriter for two successive films by the Greek director Costa-Gavras, dealing with the theme of persecution by governments, Z (1969) and The Confession (1970). For his work on Z, he was nominated for the Oscar for the best screenplay adaptation but did not win.


The Long Voyage (Tusk Ivories) - Jorge Semprun

By A Customer

I read Semprun's "The Long Voyage" a number of years ago and it has persisted in my memory ever since. I find it one of the most fully realized expositions of artistic, moral, and historical writing I have ever encountered. Semprun's technical ability in the work is closely matched by his philosophical and intellectual rigorousness in attempting to evaluate the nature of evil, and its effects on the individual. Any reader will certainly be struck instantly by his masterful use of time shifts and the cognate representation of human memory. The book becomes at once a brillinatly realised piece of writing and an immensely important document of the Holocaust.


The Long Voyage (Tusk Ivories) - Jorge Semprun

By A Customer

This is a wonderful and moving novel about a French Resistance fighter of Spanish origin who is captured by the Nazis and sent to Buchenwald. It is brilliantly written, and I would recommend it to anyone intested in good writing, the Holocaust or the human spirit.