Carme Riera, Les darreres paraules [Last words], 2016, 176 p.
BBVA Sant Jordi prize 2016 for Catalan literature (35,000 EUR)
Carme Riera novelizes the life of a free, exciting and adventerous character: the archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria.
In a discovered manuscript, Ludwig Salvator of Habsburg-Lorraine (Florence, Tuscany 1847 – Bohemia, Austria-Hungary 1915) confesses the secrets of his love relationships, some of them tragic, and he presents personal but objective points of view on the events that changed the map of Europe of the 20th century, from Meyerling to Sarajevo. Cousin of the emperor Francis Joseph and the empress Elizabeth, the famous Sissi, maybe he could have prevented the unleashing of World War I.
An unrepentant and mysterious traveler, a man of letters, naturalist and ecologist avant la lettre, the archduke was also in love with Majorca. On the island he built his small paradise kingdom.
Les darreres paraules reveals through alledged memories the family, love and political experiences of an extraordinary person who, even though he belonged to Europe’s most important imperial family, lived far from conventionalisms.
One can consider the advertising’s sentence on a possible influence on the politics before World War I as pure marketing, cf. e.g. Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War. Nevertheless the archduke has fascinated this blogger ever since he read of the 2015 exhibition held in Majorca to commemorate the centenary of the archduke’s death. The curator of that exhibition was no other than this novel’s author…
The Wikipedia has got a short article in English on the archduke, more extensive in other languages.