La República Catalana

News Comment/COMENTARI AL DIA

Fifty Years of the Gray Notebook/50 ANYS DEL QUADERN GRIS

Fifty Years of the Gray Notebook

by Josep C. Verges

Gray Notebook_html_524e6e07

 The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla, the Shakespeare of Catalonia, a country that does not exist according to New York. Below: Josep Pla at 70 in 1967, one year after publishing The Gray Notebook, in a photograph taken in our garden. Despite the “liberalisation” by Franco’s Goebbels and PP founder Fraga, Pla’s name could not be in Catalan in the press, only in his books. This same year Fraga banned the magazine Destino for two months.

 

The two cultural pillars of New York have just commemorated the 50 years of The Gray Notebook, with The New York Review of Books publishing the translation by Peter Bush and The New York Times reviewing the book, playing ignorant politics with their headline that Catalonia does not exist! Was Shakespeare wrong when he wrote Much Ado About Nothing in homage to Peter II the Great, King of Aragon?

 

The Asian Far East dates age from conception and every baby is one year old at birth and when we celebrate one, in Korea for example, they are two. When is a book a book? Convention says when it is published, which depends on factors as exotic as the flooding of the Torras paperworks in Girona or the transcription of the indecipherable handwriting of the two Gray Notebooks or the purchase of the remaining copies of the failed attempt to publish Josep Pla’s Complete Works by Casa del Llibre. My father, the publisher Josep Verges Matas, thought this would take him five years, but he reached an agreement in 18 months. A book is a book when the author considers the text finished. Josep Pla took 40 years to hand over The Gray Notebook to my father. The publisher immediately understood its importance. Josep Pla proposed that he do his Complete Works and handed over his two unpublished notebooks on 30 June 1964, fifty years ago. The always skeptical Pla was not as excited as my father: “You are too optimistic, I’m not so much,” he wrote. Soon The Gray Notebook was spoken of in the singular. My father wanted that the intelligentsia recognize the greatness that he already saw in the Proustian journal. He wrote to Pla on 1 June 1965: “I thought Joan Fuster was the person who best understood your stuff and could write a more vivid and coherent preface. Espriu for whom I have an infinite admiration, retouches and tweaks everything endlessly and he would never deliver. He is also a man who has little to say. All that is needed now is a short introduction by you, not too long, giving the reader an itinerary of your Complete Works and the why and the how it has been undertaken. All together this will give a great tone to the first volume and the necessary push to set in motion the great mass that follows.” By 13 September 1965 it is already at the printers: “I have sent you the two pieces that I took out of the Gray Notebook so that you can put them somewhere else. The complete Gray Notebook is at the printers, typed and revised by Bardagi. It has been very laborious. This week I am going to London. On my return we must meet because we have to revise a short list of names in the Gray Notebook that caused doubts transcribing.” By 21 November 1965 Pla had looked at the preface: “I send back the preface to the first volume by Fuster. It’s fine. You are right. It’s important. But all this neo-Marxist nonsense is of no interest because it is boring and outdated. But what can one do? I corrected only one thing: my date of birth which Fuster placed in 1895 and the reality is 1897. I don’t care, but details are what make civilization and it is best not to fall into the absurd trap of Madrid-style approximations.” On 30 April 1966 my father announces to Pla: “The Gray Notebook went on sale Friday. It has had a good reception and especially a clear ‘succés d’estime.” People say it is the best book ever published in Catalan.” A laconic Pla: “The news you give me on The Gray Notebook are excellent.” Josep Pla was the most censored writer by Fascism and also by Omnium Cultural who never forgave him for not publishing with them. In addition Pla did not accept a special award from them for his complete works and advised my father not to get involved in “these stupidities.” Pla is the Shakespeare of Catalonia and with The Gray Notebook we celebrate the fifty years since he finished with his Hamletian doubts.

(“Cinquanta anys del Quadern Gris,” by Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 8 February 2014)

(“Language Without a Country,” by Alan Riding, The New York Times Book Review, 20 April 2014)

(The Gray Notebook, by Josep Pla, translation by Peter Bush, New York Review of Books 2014)

 

Cinquanta anys del Quadern Gris

per Josep C. Vergés

Pla 70_html_c97c40a1

 Setanta anys de Josep Pla el 1967, un any després de publicar El Quadern Gris, fotografiat al jardí de casa nostra. Tot i la “liberalització” del Goebbels de Franco i fundador del PP, Fraga, el nom de Pla no podia sortir en català a la premsa, només als seus llibres. Aquest mateix any Fraga prohibiria la revista Destino per dos mesos. Primera foto: The Gray Notebook de Josep Pla, el Shakespeare de Catalunya, país inexistent segons Nova York.

Els dos pilars culturals de Nova York acaben de celebrar els 50 anys del “Quadern gris” amb el New York Review of Books editant la traducció de Peter Bush i el New York Times fent la crítica, tot i embolicant la troca titulant que Catalunya no existeix! Shakespeare estava equivocat dedicant “Molt soroll per a no res” a elogiar Pere II el gran, rei d’Aragó?

 

L’Àsia llunyana compta l’edat des de la concepció i cada nadó té un any i quan aquí faria un, a Corea per exemple, celebra dos anys. Quan és un llibre un llibre? La convenció diu quan surt publicat, que depèn de factors exòtics com la inundació de la paperera Torras a Girona, la transcripció de l’enrevessada lletra dels dos Quaderns Gris o la compra dels exemplars restants del fallit intent de la Casa del Llibre de publicar tota l’obra de Josep Pla. El meu pare, l’editor Josep Vergés Matas, creia que tardaria cinc anys, però aconseguí un acord en 18 mesos. Un llibre és un llibre quan l’autor el dóna per acabat. Josep Pla trigà 40 anys en entregar Els Quaderns Gris al meu pare. L’editor s’adonà de seguida de la seva importància. Josep Pla li proposà fer les Obres Completes, com deien, i li oferí els dos originals inèdits el 30 juny 1964, ara fa cinquanta anys. L’escèptic Pla no està tan entusiasmat com el meu pare: “Tu ets massa optimista. Jo no tant,” escriu. Aviat El Quadern Gris i l’Obra Completa es singularitzen. El meu pare està decidit que els intel.lectuals confirmin la grandesa que ell ja veu en el dietari proustià. Escriu a Pla l’1 juny 1965: “M’ha semblat que Joan Fuster era la persona més entesa de les teves coses i el que faria un pròleg més viu i coherent. Espriu –per qui tinc una admiració infinita- toca i retoca les coses fins a l’infinit i no acabaríem mai. És a més un home de ble curt. Falta només que tu facis una entrada no massa llarga donant al lector l’itinerari de l’O.C. i el perquè i com s’ha fet. Tot plegat donarà un gran to al primer volum i l’empenta necessària per a posar la gran baluerna que segueix en moviment.” El 13 setembre 1965 ja està a l’impremta: “T’envio els dos trossos que t’he tret del Quadern Gris perquè ho puguis posar en un altre lloc. Tot el Quadern Gris està a l’impremta passat a màquina i revisat per Bardagí. Ha donat molta feina. Aquesta setmana vaig a Londres. Al tornar ja ens veurem perquè també hem de revisar una petita llista de noms del Quadern Gris que han quedat dubtosos d’interpretació.” El 21 novembre 1965 Pla s’ha mirat el pròleg: “Et torno el pròleg de Fuster per al primer volum. Està bé. Tens raó. És important. Però totes aquestes collonades neomarxistes no tenen cap interès perquè són arxipassades de moda. Però què hi vols fer? He tret només una cosa: la data del naixement que Fuster situa en 1895 i la realitat és en 1897. Això a mi m’és igual, però els detalls són la civilització i val més no caure en aproximacions madrilenyes absurdes.” El 30 abril 1966 el meu pare anuncia a Pla: “El Quadern Gris es va posar a la venda divendres. Ha tingut bona sortida i sobretot un ‘succés d’estime’ evident. La gent diu que és el millor llibre que s’ha publicat mai en català.” Pla lacònic: “Les notícies que em dones del Quadern Gris són excel.lents.” Josep Pla va ser l’escriptor més censurat pel feixisme i per Òmnium Cultural que no li perdonà no publicar amb ells. Pla tampoc acceptà un premi seu a mida per l’Obra Completa i aconsellà el meu pare no entrar en “aquestes collonades.” Pla és el Shakespeare de Catalunya i el Quadern Gris celebra cinquanta anys de quan ell acaba els seus dubtes hamletians.

(“Cinquanta anys del Quadern Gris,” per Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 8 febrer 2014)

(“Language Without a Country,” per Alan Riding, The New York Times Book Review, 20 abril 2014)

(The Gray Notebook, per Josep Pla, traduit per Peter Bush, New York Review of Books 2014)

21 April 2014 - Posted by | Culture/Cultura, News comment/Comentari al dia | ,

2 Comments »

  1. “… a country that does not exist according to New York.” But Alan Riding is a Brit who used to be Madrid bureau chief and always writes from a Madrid point of view. And I don’t think the headline is the worst thing about the review. The contents themselves are firmly unionist and could have been written by the PP.

    Note from the editor: As the capital of the universe Madrid shines too far away to recognise close neighbours. Valentí Puig is PP of course and gets the same pride of place as Pla.

    Like

    Comment by Roger | 21 April 2014 | Reply

  2. … això és independència de Catalunya. Felicitats pel recordatori.

    Like

    Comment by Eduard Cardona | 22 April 2014 | Reply


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