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Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds Catalan literature under the Franco dictatorship and exile. What is the starting point? The starting point is that, everything that had been being built since the end of the 19th century and up until 1939, with the end of the Spanish civil war and the victory of the Pro-Franco army and the dictatorship of general Franco took hold, that same 1939 that, on the other hand, saw the start of the second world war and, therefore, the historical, political situation in Europe, we could say, was complex, but far more complex insofar as how it affected the Catalan society and the development of Catalan literature.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds What happened after the Franco dictatorship took hold, after the second republic was defeated by arms, and how did that affect the development of Catalan literature? It affected it very clearly in a way in which, on the one hand, there was an important part of Catalan writers and also Spanish writers whose ideas were against the Franco dictatorship and for fear of being punished and being arrested or even afraid of being punished with death they went into exile, an exile that we could never have foreseen would be so tragic and dramatic because exile occurred from January 1939 and they could not have expected the Second World War to break out on 1 September 1939 and, therefore, those first exiled who arrived in France and settled, sometimes not in the best conditions, because they ended up in the famous concentration camps of Northern Catalonia, could not foresee that with the outbreak of the Second World War their situation in France would be weaker and would force them either to go into exile in some Latin American country, because Europe was at war, or, depending on their personal and family relationship and the contacts they might have with Catalonia, to be able to return, there would be a sector of those who, let’s say, would do everything possible to return to Catalonia.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds So, there is on the one hand, literature that was beginning to be created in exile, in Europe in above all in Latin America and there is a cultural situation, that developed in the framework of a dictatorship, a dictatorship that first prohibited the use, not only the social use of the Catalan language, but the social use of the literary language, therefore, until the second half of the 1940s nothing could be published in Catalan. As of 1946 publishing in Catalan resumed but always under conditions in which what counted was political censorship and thus the impossibility to publish everything that would have been published in a democratic regime, then it had to be edited.

Skip to 4 minutes and 5 seconds History, however, has its twists and turns and its paradoxes. In a situation of dictatorship, in a situation of exile like that experienced by Catalan culture and Spanish culture, works can be created… Some of the most representative works of contemporary Catalan literature. Both written in exile, and written on the inside with a complete lack of freedom.

Literature under the Franco dictatorship

During the Franco dictatorship and the Second World War, some Catalan authors had to write some of their works in exile.

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

We invite you to listen to the song sung by Sílvia Pérez Cruz, accompanied by Refree on guitar. She sings a poem by Pere Quart about exile. You can read the English translation here.

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This video is from the free online course:

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

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona