divendres, 6 de gener de 2012

What Do You Know about Catalan Literature ?

What do you know about Catalan literature? Do you know that Josep Guardiola's (FC Barcelona's coach) favorite poet is Miquel Martí i Pol ? Do you know that Catalan literature has an anual output of about 21 milion copies?

Ramon Llull
Even though the existence of the Catalan language is documented from the 9th century, it was not until the 13th century that it became a literary language, through the exceptional figure of Ramon Llull (1232-1316). This philosopher, who also cultivated poetry, left such classics as Llibre del gentil e los tres savis and Romanç d’Evast e de Blanquerna, containing his most famous work, Llibre d’Amic e Amat.

Between the late 13th and early 14th centuries the deeds of the Catalan kings entered the history of literature in the form of chronicles: the Llibre dels Feits, which narrates the life and conquests of Jaume I (1208-1276); the Llibre del rei en Pere, (also known as Crònica de Bernat Desclot, its author) deals with Pere II, the Great (1240-1285); Crònica de Ramon Muntaner, which describes the lifes of several kings, with the central part devoted to Jaume II, the Just (1267-1327); and Crònica de Pere el Cerimoniós (1319-1387).

English translation
In the 15th century the Valencian writer Ausiàs March (1400-1459) took Catalan definitively into the realm of poetry. Out of the more than ten thousand lines of verse he wrote, notable works are Cant espiritual, a prayer to God, and Cants de mort, on the death of his wife. In the field of prose the city of Valencia was also the origin of the epic romance Tirant lo Blanc, by Joanot Martorell (1413?–1465?), posthumously published in 1490. A milestone in world literature, Tirant lo Blanc was considered by Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quijote to be the best book in the world for its style. The other great narrative work of the 15th century is the anonymous Curial e Güelfa.

From the 16th to 18th centuries Catalan literature suffered a period of decadence from which it did not to recover until the 19th century, thanks to a movement that called for the recovery of the Catalan language in all its vigour: the Renaixença. Notable in the field of poetry was Jacint Verdaguer (1845-1902), author of L’Atlàntida and Canigó, amongst others, while in prose we must mention Narcís Oller (1846-1930), who wrote Realist novels such as La papallona and La febre d’Or, and the dramatist Angel Guimerà .

At the end of the 19th century this movement led to Modernisme (not the same thing as Modernism in English), which was led by the multifaceted artist Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931). In the field of poetry this movement contributed “la paraula viva” (the live word) Joan Maragall (1860-1911).

At the end of the Spanish civil war, Franco's regime persecuted Catalan authors and imposed a ban on Catalan books and publications. In those hard times, outstanding figures were Josep Pla (1897-1981), Mercè Rodoreda (1908-1983), Salvador Espriu (1913-1985) and Josep Maria Folch i Torres (1880-1950).

Curiously, the restrictions imposed by censorship encouraged poetry, with a crop of writers including Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel (1913-1938), Màrius Torres (1910-1942), Pere Quart (1899-1981) and Gabriel Ferrater (1922-1972). In the 1960s, the softening of the dictatorship meant it was possible to publish novels again, such as those by Llorenç Villalonga (1897-1980), Pere Calders (1912-1994) and Avel·lí Artís-Gener (1912-2000).

New life was breathed into novel writing in the following years with leading authors such as Manuel de Pedrolo (1918-1990), Josep M. Espinàs (1927) and Joan Perucho (1920-2003). Essay was taken up again by Joan Fuster (1922-1992).

In the final third of the last century we find poets such as Miquel Martí i Pol (1929-2003) and Joan Vinyoli (1914-1984), and novelists including Jesús Moncada (1941-2005), Quim Monzó (1952), Sergi Pàmies (1960) and Baltasar Porcel (1937-2009).

The novel is precisely the genre that has been cultivated the most in recent years, thanks to writers such as Emili Teixidor (1933), Empar Moliner (1966) and Jordi Puntí (1967). And also thanks to international best-sellers such as Les veus del Pamano, by Jaume Cabré (1947) and La pell freda (Cold skin), by Albert Sánchez Piñol (1965).

Catalan authors with works translated into English that one must know, in chronological order:
Josep Pla, Joan Vinyoli, Josep Palau i Fabre, Monserrat Abelló, Joan Brossa, Gabriel Ferrater, Joan Fuster, Manuel de Pedrolo, Jordi Sarsanedas, Vicent Andrés Estellés, Blai Bonet, Josep Maria Espinàs, Miquel Martí i Pol, Bartomeu Fiol, Baltasar Porcel, Joan Margarit, Narcís Comadira, Francesc Parcerisas, Montserrat Roig, Biel Mesquida, Carme Riera, Maria Barbal, Enric Casasses, Quim Monzó, Miquel de Palol, Mercè Ibarz, Ponç Pons, Perejaume, Imma Monsó, Jaume Cabré, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Jordi Puntí, Manuel Forcano, Toni Sala, Sergi Belbel, and Emili Teixidor author of Pa Negre (Black Bread) taken to the cinema and Oscar candidate.
On www.llull.cat you can search translations into English of works by Catalan authors.

Information concerning writers in Catalan can be obtained from the following sources and organisations:

More information about Catalan literature at:
http://www.frankfurt2007.cat, Infoplease.com , Wikipedia, Catalan literature online, Google books and following the links associated to authors mentioned.

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