I would like to live longer: Spanish author at age 103

March 17th, 2009 - 9:49 am ICT by IANS  

Facebook Madrid, March 17 (EFE) Spanish novelist Francisco Ayala, who turned 103 Monday, says he would like to live quite a while longer, adding what keeps him going is his active interest in the modern world, including new developments of the information age like Facebook.
“I try to keep up with the new advances, because I see that a lot of people refuse to and separate themselves from the world. But I want to be in the world that everyone else is in today, not in the one (of) 30 or 40 years ago,” the writer said.

Speaking at his home in Madrid, accompanied by his wife, Carolyn Richmond - whom he described as his “life” - Ayala was as friendly and lucid as ever although he jokes that he is “a little hard of hearing and intelligence” and is doing what he can to retain those faculties.

He said he has discovered the secret both of longevity and for being loved and respected, saying a “good recipe” is to “take things as they come”, not “try to impose anything (and) live and let live”.

It is in that spirit that he faced another birthday and a tribute that Spain’s National Library had organised for him Monday.

But Ayala is a box of surprises, and not only for his ability to defy Father Time.

The author of a vast body of fiction that has earned him recognition as one of the most important Spanish intellectuals of the 20th century, Ayala has accepted a proposal by the National Library to have his own web page set up at the social-networking site Facebook.

Ayala said he is “a little intimidated” by the initiative, but that he always has adapted well to the new technologies and sees no reason why things should be different on this occasion.

His 1985 article “Mi ordenador y yo” (My Computer and I), in which he wrote that “no writer worth his salt should use a work tool other than the latest machine put out by the electronic industry”, has been posted on the site, along with other writings.

Ayala has been the president of the National Library’s Board of Trustees for years and says that institution was his “first intellectual home”, adding that when he came to live in Madrid as a boy “there was nobody then, there was no rush”.

Although he retains the sparkle in his eyes, he said it is misleading because he has lost much of his sight and his wife must read the newspaper to him and keep him informed about the global economic crisis and current events.

The winner of prestigious awards such as the Cervantes - Spain’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Literature - and the Prince of Asturias Prize for Letters, Ayala told EFE: “You have to enter into solidarity with the life you’ve lived; but instead of assuming it as your own, (look at it) as a show to take a glance at.”

“Past life over there, and now onward with mine!”

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