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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds Today, we’re meeting with Enric Gallén Miret, Professor of Catalan Literature and History of Translation in Pompeu Fabra University’s Department of Translation. Among his most relevant publications are “Theater in the City of Barcelona During the Francoist Regime” and the edition of Narcís Oller “Theatrical Memoirs”. His many studies on the works of Catalan authors such as Àngel Guimerà, Salvador Espriu or Josep M. Benet i Jornet led him to be awarded the Barcelona theater critic award in 1995. Likewise, he stands out as a journalist and collaborator for several newspapers, such as El Periódico or El País. So, we have with us a critical eye that will help us take a careful and transversal look at the history of Catalan-language literature.

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second The origins of Catalan literature: Ramon Llull and Ausiàs March. This literature, like most Western European literature, has its origins in the middle ages, rather, unlike the great western literature such as the English, French or Italian,

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds literature in the Catalan language comes slightly later: we do not know of any texts that we can say are genuinely written in the Catalan language until the middle of the 13th century, and even then, you should always bear in mind that during much of the Middle Ages Catalan writers, essentially the troubadours, wrote in a language that was Catalan but had a lot in common with Provençal. In fact the Middle Ages would have been the golden age of Catalan literature if we had to look for an equivalent with other literatures of the surroundings, and it gave rise to very important writers of whom

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds necessarily we must mention but a few: Ramon Llull, Ausiàs March and Tirant lo Blanc. Why Ramon Llull? Because he is the creator, above all, of Catalan prose that is to say, the first writer in Catalan in the 13th century in a language that is free of the influence of Provençal.

Skip to 2 minutes and 44 seconds And because his work, which was not only written in Catalan, but also in Latin and Arabic, has a universal outreach with the obsession, the concern that he had, which was to use literature to articulate a message of conveying his vision of, let us say, faith, of the Catholic faith to those sectors of society, let us say, that were opposed to it and hence a part of this work was written both in Catalan to reach his society and in Arabic, to reach out non-Christian parts.

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 seconds If Llull represents the creator of Catalan prose, Ausiàs March is the equivalent in the field of poetry, two centuries later, in the 15th century, in becoming the poet who wrote in a language free of Provençalisms, in addition in a language in tune with the social use that could be made of literary language at that time in the city of Valencia.

Skip to 4 minutes and 0 seconds If Ramon Llull was a Majorcan writer, March was a Valencian writer, and since we are already in the 15th century, this implies that we have a writer for the first time with other European writers of the same ilk but in the case, say, of Catalan poetry, he used poetry to talk about himself, he became the subject of his poetry that basically debates the themes of love and death and that is what makes him not only the first Catalan poet, but the first poet in the Peninsula and a poet who, from the 16th century on, for example, would have a decisive influence on Spanish poetry with poets such as Garcilaso de la Vega.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 seconds Catalan literature origins: Tirant lo Blanc. Parallel with the figure of March who filled

Skip to 5 minutes and 7 seconds Catalan poetry in the 15th century, in 1490 a novel was published: Tirant lo Blanc started by Joanot Martorell and finished by Martí Joan de Galba which is an example of a modern novel, the “complete” novel, a novel also set in the Valencia area, in a previous medieval period, but with the intention of somehow reflecting the Valencia of his time. What is the value of the novel Tirant lo Blanc? That it is the cornerstone of the Catalan narrative throughout history, that it is a novel that Miguel de Cervantes had in mind when he came to write el Quijote in order to question everything about the world of chivalry and indeed to consider it as the exception of what was the rule.

Skip to 6 minutes and 4 seconds It is a novel that, as a “complete” novel means that it is is a military novel, that it is a novel of customs, that it is a psychological novel, that it caught the attention of Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize in literature, to the extent that when he lived here in Barcelona in the 1960s he had a direct relationship with Martí de Riquer who was the scholar of Joanot Martorell’s work and devoted a study of it that somehow gave the novel a degree of importance not just in the Catalan literary field but in the field of the European novel of the 15th century.

Catalan literature origins

Literature written in Catalan appears in the Middle Ages, a golden era compared with the literature produced in surrounding regions and countries.

This video is in Catalan language, so remember to activate the subtitles in English, Spanish or Catalan.

‘Veles e vents’ is a work by Ausiàs March which has been transferred to the world of music in the form of a song. If you want to read it, you can read the translation in English while listening to the song sung by Raimon.

To learn more about Ramon Llull, you can take our course about him.

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Getting to Know Catalonia: An Introduction to the Catalan Language, Culture and Society

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona