Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsFrom the modern age to 19th century restoration: Jacint Verdaguer, Àngel Guimerà and Narcís Oller. Now, that literature that lived, I repeat, this golden age until the 15th century, which probably is not comparable to other European literature of its time, underwent a long period of crisis of nearly three centuries which the writing of cultured literature in Catalan did not cease, but the literature that was written did not have the originality that had characterized it until the 15th century; which is not to say that there wasn’t also broad popular literature of a traditional nature, of a rural character which therefore maintained the cultivation of literature in the Catalan language.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 secondsThere are many reasons for this situation, very complex ones, basically historical, and there’s probably a decisive factor which is the renouncement of, or we could say, the departure of the hegemonic Catalan classes towards their own culture, towards their own literature as of the fusion of the two crowns, crowns, the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsProgressively in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, there is a whole process of restoration, which at the time given the name of Reinaxença, a name of Reinaxença, which for a long time people have tried, let’s say, to identify with all that arises from Catalan literature from the late 18th century until the end of the 19th century, but it was increasingly clear that the real restoration of the the Catalan language and literature, the desire to return to what it had signified until the fifteenth century , we must situate basically in the last third of the 19th century when this literature considered opting to be a literature of prestige, of reference, on par with other European literature.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 secondsAnd this was helped by the appearance of three individuals who for the first time, after the 15th century, would project, on a somewhat smaller scale compared to what it might be today, Catalan literature in the international arena. These figures are Jacint Verdaguer, in the field of poetry, although he also wrote prose, Àngel Guimerà, who was a poet but that above all is recognized as a playwright, and Narcís Oller in the field of narrative. Àngel Guimerà is the writer that especially with a work that is is “Terra Baixa” manages to internationalize the Catalan theatre that had just begun in the last third of the 19th century.

Skip to 3 minutes and 54 secondsIt is a work that would be translated into many languages, it is a work that was to be adapted into an opera in French and German, especially in German, “Tiefland” is a work that today is still part of the repertoire of the opera houses and it was also be made into, or adapted for film including one very famous one which was directed by Leni Riefenstahl and included in its cast one of the great figures of German theatre, Bernhard Minneti.

Skip to 4 minutes and 34 secondsIt was Narcís Oller who led the desire to create the modern Catalan novel, that is to say, If Verdaguer is the reference point for all the contemporary poetry that would come later and Guimerà is the reference of all the Catalan theatre that would come later, Oller created the modern Catalan novel, based on which parameters? Basically the parameters of French narrative, specifically of Zola, with the goal, from the realist, naturalist perspective of constructing a radiography of the Catalan society that in the last third of the 19th century was experiencing the whole process of industrialization.

Skip to 5 minutes and 19 secondsAnd so significant was his presence, that would be parallel to the place held in Spanish narrative by Benito Pérez Galdós that, that, when it was translated into French, when his novel “The Butterfly” was translated into French, Émile Zola, the maximum expression of French Naturalism, endorsed it it with a prologue where, while it is true that it marked the difference between his treatment of naturalism as a French novelist from that of Narcís Oller, Oller, he praised it, blessed it, and gave a helping hand.

Modern age Catalan literature

Catalan literature came onto the international scene in the last third of the 19th century through three outstanding authors of the time.

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

‘The emigrant’ is a text by Jacint Verdaguer that has been performed by several singers and we suggest you listen to two very different styles by Marina Rosell and Peret. To understand the lyrics, you can read them 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