Carlos Barral i Agesta (Barcelona, 1928-1989). Publisher, writer and politician. A crucial figure in the world of 20th-century publishing, he updated the existing literary scene by opening up new pathways with Spanish, European and Latin American authors.
He earned his degree in Law from the University of Barcelona. With several fellow classmates, he formed the group of intellectuals known as the Generació del 50 (Generation of ‘50), which also included Jaime Gil de Biedma, Alberto Oliart, Josep Maria Castellet and Gabriel Ferrater. In 1950, he joined the Seix Barral publishing house, which his family co-owned. In 1954, he became the literary editor and embarked upon an in-depth transformation of the editorial line with the creation of collections such as the famous Biblioteca Breve. He was the creator of one of the most prestigious literary prizes in Spain, the Biblioteca Breve Prize, which was held for the first time in 1958. In the early 1960s, he teamed up with foreign publishers to promote the Formentor Prize and the Prix International de Littérature. With Mario Vargas Llosa’s La ciudad y los perros, the 1962 Biblioteca Breve Prize winner, he ushered in the Boom llatinoamericà (Latin American Boom), which brought names like Carlos Fuentes, Guillermo Cabrera Infante and José Donoso to the publishing house.
In 1967, the representative of the second family that co-owned the publishing house, and his closest colleague, Víctor Seix, died in Frankfurt, leaving their shared project truncated. Shortly thereafter, Barral left the company to found Barral Editores (1970-1977), where he continued along the same editorial line he had started at Seix Barral. In 1981, he directed the Bibliotheca del Fénice collection in the Argos Vergara publishing house, his last activity in the world of publishing. In the 1980s, he started to devote himself to politics. He was a socialist senator for the Tarragona district and a European parliamentarian.
In 1983, he was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Cross).
Carlos Barral collection at the Biblioteca de Catalunya
Carlos Barral publishing correspondence collection, 1956-1984, at the Biblioteca de Catalunya
Carlos Barral, poeta-editor-memorialista (exhibition)