Snippet: Puigdevall’s “Guests of stone”


Ponç Puigdevall, Els convidats de pedra [Guests of stone], a literary study, not a novel…

Excerpted publisher’s summary:

The writer and literary critic Ponç Puigdevall (Sant Feliu de Guíxols, 1963) has gathered texts he wrote between the years 2000 and 2002 for the newspaper El Punt on rare Catalan books and authors: little known, sometimes extravagant, always remote and marginalized ones.
These little known authors are presented in chronological order, and the book starts with the figure of Antoni de Montserrat, a missioner to India at the end of the 16th century, a jesuit who created the first map of the Himalaya and who explained the Gospels to the great Mughal Akbar. And the book ends with a text on Guillem Simó’s portentous diary, En aquesta part del món [In that part of the world].
 Other authors and works to be (re-)discovered through this book are e.g. Sinibald de Mas, a student of Sanskrit theology; Francesc Pujols; Juli Vallmitjana; Josep Maria Planes’ [known as a journalist assassinated by anarchists] Nits de Barcelona [Barcelona nights]; the force of the short stories written by Cèlia Suñol; Diego Ruiz, or Ramon Vinyes; the diaries, one of the most powerful streaks of Catalan literature, of Edmon Vallès, Artur Bladé, Tomás Garcés, Marià Manent, Francesc Rierola, Gaziel, or the exquisit Hores angleses [English hours] by Ferran Soldevila.
 There are also to be found the so called “minor” works of authors who form part of the established canon, e.g. La ruta blava [The blue route] by Josep Maria de Sagarra; Nocturn de primavera [Spring night] by Josep Pla; Del Pròxim Orient [From the Middle East], a collection of articles that Josep Carner published in the diary La Publicitat as a result of his time as consul in Lebanon; the late work of Eugeni d’Ors… And progressing still further there is an altarpiece of authors and works that undeservedly haven’t had a major reception, e.g. the poetry of Joan Vinyoli; A partir del silenci [Starting from silence] by Joan Brossa; K.L. Reich by Joaquim Amat Piniella; some works by Blai Bonet; or Els estats de connivència [States of collusion] by Miquel Bauçà.
 The book’s title is a reference to Pere Gimferrer’s Los raros [The strange ones], where the latter writes: “The strange ones are the guests of stone of literature and reading.” It is above all a battle against literary ostracism, to claim their place in the chain of literary history. In a certain way it is anti-academic that doesn’t value literature according to schools, conceptual critical apparatus and theoretic systems. Puigdevall criticizes the Catalanist establishment for leaving out authors that it didn’t consider exemplary enough, e.g. for their use of a non-standard Catalan when the modern, normative Catalan was still being “harmonized” by Pompeu Fabra in the early 20th century.
This book is a feast of comparative literature and shows a reading ethic that rests on the beating force of narrative style, literary emotion and the conviction that literature is a way of personal salvation for determined spirits. Despite a host of dates, names,  works and places Puigdevall manages to show the literature’s vitality. And his skill for unfolding an essayist digression through authentic narrative  approaches, catch the readers with the same resources with which they are moved by a story.
This books sounds interesting for those seriously interested in Catalan literature – and who already master the language as it is highly unlikely that either the study itself or the works mentioned in it will ever be translated…

SOURCE: El llop ferotge (“The fierce wolf”; publisher)


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