La República Catalana

News Comment/COMENTARI AL DIA

Josep Pla’s Gray Notebook/EL GRAY NOTEBOOK DE JOSEP PLA

Josep Pla’s Gray Notebook

by Josep C. Verges

Pla 1919Josep Pla in Paris in 1919 when he ended The Gray Notebook to become foreign correspondent of La Publicitat. Below: Sitting from left to right: Crespo of the London Cervantes Institute, Juristo, Davis of Girton, Cambridge, and Peter Bush. Juristo had the gall to claim Catalan literature was worthless. The Spanish nationalist is of course illiterate in Catalan. The Cervantes is financed 25% by Catalan taxes.

Hispanist Peter Bush sent me his impressive version of The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla, published this spring by the New York Review of Books (NYRB Classics, 2014), with a dedication wearing a blazer: “Hope you enjoy this Catalan flâneur in his English clothes.” Certainly he was more a dandy than a paysan, as becomes clear in his second notebook of 1919 about Barcelona. But above all he was a flâneur of language. Peter Bush has erected a monument to the Shakespeare of Catalonia. The European cultural correspondent of the New York Times, Alan Riding, confirms: “Does it matter that The Gray Notebook is written in Catalan? The excellent English translation is a delight. For the most part Pla seemed to be addressing me today.”

The great impact of The Gray Notebook in New York has provoked the ire of Spanish nationalists. The literary editor of ABC, Juan Angel Juristo, first of all attacks the traitorous translator: “He did not quote a single Spanish name that did not write in Catalan, all this in a seminar on Spanish literature and in the Cervantes Institute which I found rather bizarre.” Bush in fact is also the translator from Castilian Spanish of Lorca and Valle-Inclan! Don Juristo then attacks “the literature produced in such a tiny corner of the European map which is Catalonia. New York’s fascination with Pla must come from this light whiff of exoticism, but life is full of misunderstandings.” How provincial New York, how universal Madrid! I reread Pla in provincial English, reliving what I felt in the sixties exiled in Cambridge, that Pla did with Catalan what Shakespeare did with English. The hatred of Spanish nationalists also comes from Catalans not being pure race, as Pla explains of his maternal name: “Considered Hebraic, palpably Israelite. One repeatedly finds Casadevalls in the lists of people burnt alive in Castelló d’Empúries in the successive pogroms against the Jewish ghetto. From the perspective of the purists of Aryanism I’m a typical Mediterranean sewer rat.” Pro-German Spanish nationalism clashes with pro-English Catalan nationalism: “England embodies the spirit of freedom of conscience compared to the German military spirit of authoritarianism and subordination.” His father portrayed a Spain which is just like today’s PP and PSOE: “The person who most resembles a man of the left is a man of the right.” Pla’s self-portrait: “I believe what I think and do what I believe. Catalans are practical, moderate, tenacious, not prone to flights of fancy. Our history is that of a frontier people. That is why we are adaptable rather than dogmatic.” Pla’s manifesto “The overall tone of my notebook is critical and possibly even subversive. I sail against the corruption of my time. I am not a product of my time; I am a product against my time.” The writer most censored by Franco and still hated by Spanish nationalists as shown, turned culture into politics, when politics was banned by Fascism, like previously he had turned politics into culture in the twenties and thirties. His immense work in Catalan has crossed over from provincial Catalonia to triumph in provincial New York thanks to the provincial English of Peter Bush. We can now enjoy all Pla’s provincialism in Catalan and English, our great classic in the culture and politics of freedom, despite the censorship of universal Spanish nationalism.

(“El Gray Notebook de Josep Pla,” by Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 25 May 2014)

El Gray Notebook de Josep Pla

per Josep C. Vergés

cervantes-18-04-2013-8Sentats d’esquerra a dreta: Crespo de l’Institut Cervantes de Londres, Juristo, Davis de Girton, Cambridge, i Peter Bush. Juristo va tenir la barra de dir que la literatura catalana no val res. Evidentment l’espanyolista és analfabet en català. El Cervantes està finançat en un 25% per impostos catalans. Primera foto: Josep Pla a París el 1919 quan acaba el Quadern Gris per a ser corresponsal de La Publicitat.

L’hispanista Peter Bush m’envia la seva impressionant versió del Quadern Gris de Josep Pla, publicada aquesta primavera pel New York Review of Books (NYRB Classics, 2014), amb una dedicatòria en blazer: “Espero que gaudeixis d’aquest flâneur vestit aquí a l’anglesa.” Certament era més dandi que pagès, com queda clar en el segon quadern de 1919 sobre Barcelona. Era sobretot flâneur de l’idioma. Peter Bush ha bastit un monument al Shakespeare de Catalunya. Ho confirma el corresponsal europeu de cultura al New York Times, Alan Riding: “Importa que el Gray Notebook estigui escrit en català? L’excel.lent traducció és un plaer. Sembla com si Pla m’estiguès parlant avui.”

El gran impacte del Gray Notebook a Nova York ha provocat la ira espanyolista. El director literari de l’ABC, Juan Angel Juristo, primer ataca el traidor traductor: “Sin pronunciar un solo nombre español que no escribiese en catalán, lo que en unas charlas sobre literatura española y en el Instituto Cervantes me pareció un tanto estrambótico.” Això del traductor de la literatura castellana, que no española, de Lorca i Valle-Inclán! Don Juristo ataca “la literatura producida en una esquina tan pequeña del mapa europeo continental como es Cataluña. No se me escapa cierto aire de exotismo en la fascinación neoyorkina por Pla, pero la vida está llena de malentendidos.” Que provinciana Nova York, que universal Madrid! Rellegeixo Pla en provincià anglès i torno a reviure el que vaig sentir als anys seixanta exiliat a Cambridge, que Pla ha fet amb el català el que Shakespeare amb l’anglès. L’odi espanyolista ve també de que no som de pura raça, com Pla explica sobre el nom matern: “Considerat una mica hebraic, sensiblement israelita. En la llista de persones cremades de viu en viu a Castelló d’Empúries en successius progroms contra el call jueu, el cognom Casadevall s’hi troba reiteradament. Des del punt de vista dels puristes de l’arianisme sóc un home de la claveguera del Mediterrani.” L’espanyolisme pro-germànic xoca amb el catalanisme pro-anglès: “Anglaterra encarna l’esperit de lliure examen davant l’esperit militar i de submissió d’Alemanya.” El seu pare li retrata Espanya com si fos avui amb el PP i PSOE: “El que més s’assembla a un home d’esquerra és un home de dreta.” Autoretrat de Pla: “El que penso ho crec i el que crec ho faig. El català és pràctic, moderat, tenaç i de poques fantasies. Tenim una història de gent de frontera. Així tenim més adaptabilitat que dogmatisme.” El manifest de Pla: “El to general del quadern és crític i potser de vegades subversiu. Jo navego contra la corrupció del corrent. Jo no sóc un producte del meu temps. Sóc un producte contra el meu temps.” L’autor més censurat per Franco, i encara odiat pels espanyolistes com veiem, feia política amb la cultura quan la política estava prohibida pel feixisme, com abans havia fet cultura amb la política dels anys vint i trenta. La seva immensa obra en català ha traspassat la provinciana Catalunya per triomfar a la provinciana Nova York gràcies al provincià anglès de Peter Bush. De tant provincianisme planià, en català o en anglès, censurat per l’espanyolisme universal, gaudim del nostre gran clàssic de la cultura i política de la llibertat.

(“El Gray Notebook de Josep Pla,” per Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 25 maig 2014)

 

29 May 2014 - Posted by | Culture/Cultura, Politics/Política | ,

2 Comments »

  1. Excellent -truly ironic like Pla!

    Like

    Comment by Peter Bush | 30 May 2014 | Reply

  2. Excellent! I posted a link to this on both Facebook and Twitter.

    I also noted and posted this tragic fact today: Sadly, and by fiat, the Spanish State increasingly makes Gasau-Yates “Teach Yourself Catalan” out of date. And, while we’re on the subject of language:

    http://rogerevansonline.com/2014/05/24/catalonia-and-the-french-language/

    Cheers!

    Like

    Comment by Roger Evans | 30 May 2014 | Reply


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