Martí de Riquer, Medievalist, Dies at 99

The Catalan diary El Punt Avui had this information (excerpts of this article):

“A bad day for Catalan literature. [On Sept. 17, there also died the poet and publisher Joaquim Horta.] … As other 20th century personalities, Martí de Riquer (Barcelona, 1914 – 2013) was a man marked by the turbulent events of the war and the years thereafter. And recently by his wife’s death. … He was the grandson of the modernist artist and writer Alexandre de Riquer, and a real scholar. … His studies of 14th and 15th century Catalan humanism were essential (L’humanisme català, 1934) as well as his thesis on Ausiàs March, that situated him as a first class scholar by the beginning of the 1940s. His political evolution saw him fight on the rebel (Franco) side during the Civil War; a generational trauma, also physical for him as he lost one arm and had his studies interrupted. After the war he took up his university career again. … He is often unfairly seen as close to the Franco regime, but in fact worked in favour of the university, its autonomy, and those scholars persecuted by the regime (Tierno Galván, Aranguren, García Calvo) [details unknown to this blogger].

His vast work has been a core element for the development of Catalan philology and also for Provençal, Spanish and French philology. His teaching activities went up to the 1990s, and his methodological rigor made him into a unique figure and a teacher of teachers. His studies of the troubadours, of Gilabert de Pròixita, Andreu Febrer, Bernat Metge, Jordi de Sant Jordi, Cerverí de Girona and Guillem de Berguedà are unrepeatable and a source for all scholars that appeared afterwards. At the same time, he recreated his own family’s history in another work of reference, Quinze generacions d’una família catalana [Fifteen generations of a Catalan family, 1979], republished in different ocasions since 1998. It would be unjust to leave out of a summary his studies on Chanson de RolandChrétien de Troyes, or the monumental essays and edition of Tirant lo Blanc, and other studies on Romance novels, Don Quixote, La Celestina, and Catalan heraldry. Other key works: Història de la literatura catalana [History of Catalan literature], with Joaquim Molas and Antoni Comas; Historia de la literatura universal [History of universal literature], with José María Valverde. … Martí de Riquer did not live in an ivory tower but became one of the most charismatic professors of the contemporary university… His affable character provoked empathy, and there’s a legion of those who recognize the impuls, stimulus and initiation to study they received from his classes…

He suffered adverse circumstances and does not have a totally immaculate biography but the final balance is that of a giant…; his school has been that of continued work, reflection and beauty. Philology and culture in general lose a hero as big as those of the books he studied and projected into the future. … One of his students was Manuel Vázquez Montalbán who made the professor into a character of one of his novels.

‘He made the Catalan literature known in the Hispanic sphere in a moment when it practically did not exist,’ remembers the philologist and historian of literature Albert Hauf, a student of his. ‘He belonged to the victorious side, but one has to understand the circumstances and to say that he was a catalanist, a hispanist and an occitanist, he helped students with political problems,’ Hauf adds. He remarks that at Sorbonne University in Paris they used Martí de Riquer’s textbook on French literature. … His editor Jaume Vallcorba points out that he was an exceptional writer and a tireless scholar. ‘… but above all he loved literature and words.’ ”

More biographical and bibliographical information can be found on the pages of the Wikipedia and the Catalan writers association. lists some collective works that contain articles by de Riquer in English.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s