Don Francisco Ayala, one of Spain's intellectual giants, turns 100 on Thursday and, while the decades have undoubtedly taken their toll, his humour-filled, piercing brown eyes let you know he still has plenty to say.
"Mindwise, I feel exactly as I've always felt. Energywise, I'm slowing down," he said in an interview at the elegant Madrid home he shares with his wife, Spanish literature professor Carolyn Richmond, an American.
Novelist, sociologist, moralist and literary scholar, Ayala has won all of the prestige prizes in Spanish letters, from the Cervantes in 1991 to the Prince of Asturias in 1998. The Spanish Civil War forced him into decades of exile, leading him to teach in universities in Argentina, Puerto Rico and in half a dozen in the United States before retiring from the City University of New York some 40 years ago.
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