Víctor Català [Caterina Albert i Parads] - this work undoubtedly constitutes the starting point of the exploration of female identity by female writers in modern Catalan literature – prefiguring the work of later and better-known British women writers such as V. Woolf and D. Lessing.

Image result for Víctor Català, Solitude,
Víctor Català, Solitude, Trans. by David H. Rosenthal, Readers International, 1992. [1905.]




Beautiful, industrious, and intelligent Camilla is taken to an isolated hermitage in the Pyrenees by her lazy and insensitive husband, Matias. There she contends not only with her rapidly failing marriage but with her attraction to her young neighbor Arnau; her growing admiration and respect for the older shepherd named Gaieta; and the violent intentions of the bestial Anima. Through Gaieta's guidance, Camilla finds strength and a sense of self in the mountains: "Forcing her to gaze over every steep precipice, teaching her how to twist her body and secure her footing in dangerous spots, making her look down when they were halfway up a cliff and laughing at her terror, he helped conquer her fears ... And now she loved the excitement she felt on those peaks and the way the yawning depths seemed to suck her soul out of her." Faced with debt, deprivation, and violence, she must make choices for and ultimately by herself. While Caterina Albert i Paradis had little choice but to use a male pseudonym, she wrote Solitude from an intensely feminine viewpoint, delving deeply into the thoughts and emotions of a young woman caught by circumstance. It has been called "the most important Catalan novel to appear before the Spanish Civil War," when Franco took power and outlawed the Catalan language for more than thirty-five years. To find it translated into English and in print may be more remarkable still. - Erica Bauermeister                          




WHEN Francisco Franco took over Spain in 1939, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, one of the first things he did was to criminalize the use of the Catalan language. Suddenly, all over the province of Catalonia, placards began to appear: "Don't bark!" they read. "Speak the language of the Spanish empire!" Franco was an ardent nationalist, but mostly he operated from fear. Much of his Republican opposition had originated in Catalonia and been plotted in that region's sometimes guttural, sometimes musical tongue.
But while you can ban the teaching of a language, you cannot practically ban the speaking of it. Catalan, as a result, persisted, and since Franco's death it has undergone a resurrection of sorts, thanks in great part to the government of the region, which has instituted a vigorous program to reintroduce into its population a language almost every young person knows how to speak but few know how to write. These days in Barcelona, Catalan book publishers abound, while American novels regularly appear in both Spanish and Catalan translations. Still, Catalan writers face a daunting choice. The temptation to write in Spanish -- a language spoken the world over -- can be hard to resist when one's mother tongue is understood only in an extremely circumscribed area. Indeed, when the popular Catalan novelist Terenci Moix elected to write his autobiography in Spanish, rumor had it that the President of Catalonia called him and begged him to change his mind. Mr. Moix stuck to his guns; the resulting book was a huge best seller all over Spain.
Unfortunately, very little Catalan literature is available in English. This is a shame, since it's a rich brew, as various as the region itself, where mountains tower over half-moon-shaped beaches and snow falls 20 minutes' drive from the seaside. What we do have we owe chiefly to the efforts of the esteemed translator David H. Rosenthal, who died last November, at the age of 46, of pancreatic cancer. He made available, among other works, renditions of the medieval epic "Tirant lo Blanc," Merce Rodorera's extraordinary war novel, "The Time of the Doves," and the poetry of J. V. Foix.
https://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/10/books/seduction-in-catalonia.html


This novel is one of the classics of the modern Catalan novel. It was first published in 1905 and though Català wrote other works afterwards, she had only limited success, despite living for another sixty years. She tells us in the foreword that when she initially wrote it, she cut out two chapters as she thought the book was too long. When she was planning to republish the book at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, she planned to put them back. When she returned home to fetch the manuscript, she found that her house had been raided by the authorities in the search for guns. They had taken the shotgun used by her great-grandfather to fight against the Napoleonic invasion but her manuscript, apart from a few scattered pages, had also disappeared, so this book still contains only the original eighteen chapter plus a few fragments.
The book is about Matias and Mila, two newly-weds. He has been given the job of a caretaker of a hermitage up in the mountains and their honeymoon is the long and arduous journey to the hermitage. Mila bitterly complains for much of the journey, her concerns exacerbated by the sight of the steep path to their destination. When they finally get there, her comment is How lonely!
They are met by Gaietà, a shepherd, and a boy assistant, Baldiret. A tour of the premises does not improve Mila’s mood. The chapel is devoted to St Pontius, according to Gaietà, the patron saint of good health (though I can find no evidence for this). Mila finds it frightening, as it seems to be full of what she calls stinking and worm-eaten junk. The noise of the mountains – St Pontius’ Roar – does not help. The next morning the view is merely grey and, despite the splendours of the mountains, not appealing.
A few of the missing pages mentioned appear as Baldiret loves stories and Gaietà tells him several during the course of the book, all of which have an element of fantasy about them. However, there is a dark side and the dark side is Anima. Anima is a wild mountain man who seems to make his living from trapping rabbits but, according to Gaietà, he is the nastiest man in these mountains. Mila and Gaietà see him from a distance but Mila will see him again. - read more here:


www.themodernnovel.org/europe/w-europe/catalonia/victor-catala/solitude/






"Solitude in the City: Victor Català with Mercè Rodoreda"
 in Women's narrative and film in twentieth-century Spain: a world of difference(s) by Ofelia Ferrán, Kathleen Mary Glenn, 2002.


Víctor Català was the penname of Caterina Albert i Parads, a catalan writer who took part in catalan Modernism movement. Her literary skill was first recognized in 1898, when she received the Jocs Florals (floral games) prize; soon thereafter, she began using the pseudonym Victor Catal, taking it from the protagonist of a novel she never finished. Despite her success as a dramatist and her forays into poetry, she is best known for her work in narrative literature, with the force of her style and the richness of her diction being especially noted. She died in her hometown of lEscala, Catalonia, in 1966 and is interred in the Cementiri Vell de lEscala.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Steven Seidenberg - a dramatic intensification of Seidenberg’s career-long blurring of fiction, poetry, and philosophy—an accomplishment recalling the literary contributions of Blanchot, Bernhard, and pre-impasse Beckett

Leon Forrest - Fabulous, wildly comic, and Ulysses-like. a huge oratorio of the sacred and the profane, set in bars, churches, and barbershops .

Futures and Fictions - In what ways could we imagine a world different from the one in which we currently live?