La República Catalana


Snobs Against Pla and Shakespeare/ELS ESNOBS CONTRA PLA I SHAKESPEARE

Snobs Against Pla and Shakespeare

by Josep C. Verges Pla 1919_html_293b9b67

The flâneur Josep Pla in 1919 in Barcelona when he wrote his second grey notebook. Below: The snob Alan Riding in Paris. He titles his critique of Pla in The New York Times “Language Without a Country”.


A snobishness often repeated is that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare and Pla was not Pla. Shakespeare wasn’t because only a lord could write so well and Pla wasn’t because only an old man could write so well The Gray Notebook, not a youth of 21 and 22. We’ll leave the much ado about nothing of Shakespeare and concentrate on our Pla, so provincial according to Spanish nationalists that he now triumphs in New York, just as provincial say the universal snobs. Can anyone reinvent, 45 years later, a diary with so much detail?


The snob of the New York Times Alan Riding reviews Pla: “He reworked The Gray Notebook before its publication in 1966, blending the reflections of a young writer learning his trade with those of a mature wordsmith elaborating on his memories. Occasionally it is possible to distinguish the old from the new, in a change of tense here, a contradiction there. At one point the young man admits to not having read Proust; at another the older author applauds Proust as a great realist writer. Pla reads like an extended literary autobiograhy.” I ask the translator of The Gray Notebook if he found that Pla rewrote extensively. I myself reread The Gray Notebook in Catalan and English without finding any obvious signs. On his way to Oxford Peter Bush replies: “My impression is that it reads seamlessly in Catalan. Is that the product of the older man re-writing and polishing or of a genius writing his portrait of the writer as a young man? The Pla critics tend to suggest that he re-wrote a lot though never give chapter and verse. You’ve always said he didn’t. In a way to the reader it doesn’t matter but clearly from a critical point of view it’s a fascinating conundrum that nobody seems to have addressed adequately.” Peter Bush adds: “I was surprised by what Riding said about Proust. As far as I am concerned Pla had read Proust. He couldn’t have written what he does in The Gray Notebook if he hadn’t.” Nor is there any truth that Pla mixes his tenses between past and present. In English the past may be very determinate when in Catalan there is more flexibility. When Pla leaves Las Noticias to leave a few days later as Paris correspondent of La Publicitat, he already uses the past tense: “When I joined the editorial board of Las Noticias.” He dose not mix up his tenses, it is Pla’s reality of what he lived in 1919. Pla gave tow grey notebooks for 1918 and 1919 to my father the summer of 1964, and The Gray Notebook was published on the 23rd April 1966. In the correspondence I am editing between Pla and his publisher Josep Verges Matas ther is no mention at all of rewriting. In the one thousand letters covering four decades they often discuss rewriting books and articles, the vast majority because of censorship, because Pla was the author most censored by the Fascist regime. My father delayed the publication of The Gray Notebook to April, when prior censorship ended, so that nothing would have to be rewritten because there was no obligation to present the book to Franco’s Goebbels, Fraga Iribarne, the founder of the PP. The two handwritten grey notebooks were typed, stylistically corrected, typeset by the printers and corrected in galleys and page layout. Variations are certain. But geniuses have it in them since their youth. The snob Riding can headline in the New York Times that Catalonia does not exist but in Much Ado About Nothing Shakespeare paid homage to Catalonia. Shakespeare was Shakespeare, and Pla, Pla.

(“Els esnobs contra Pla i Shakespeare,” by Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 15 June 2014)


Els esnobs contra Pla i Shakespeare

per Josep C. Vergés

Riding_html_b17f3396L’esnob Alan Riding a París. Titula la seva critica al New York Times de Pla “Idioma sense país”. Primera foto: El flâneur Josep Pla el 1919 a Barcelona quan escriu el seu segon quadern gris.


Un dels esnobismes repetits és que Shakespeare no era Shakespeare i Pla no era Pla. Shakespeare no ho era perquè només un lord podia escriure tan bé, i Pla no ho era perquè només un vell podia escriure tan bé El Quadern Gris, no un jove de 21 i 22 anys. Deixem el molt soroll per a no res de Shakespeare i mirem el nostre Pla, tan provincià segons els espanyolistes, que ara triomfa a Nova York, igual de provinciana segons els esnobs universals. Qui pot reinventar-se, 45 anys després, un dietari amb tants de detalls?


L’esnob del New York Times Alan Riding critica Pla: “Va reescriure el Quadern Gris abans de publicar-lo el 1966 barrejant les reflexions d’un jove escriptor aprenent el seu ofici amb el creador madur de les seves memòries. En alguns punts veiem la barreja entre nou i vell, com un canvi de temps aquí o una contradicció allà. Per exemple de jove admet no haver llegit Proust i després l’autor madur aplaudeix Proust com un gran escriptor realista. Es tracta d’una biografia literària elaborada.” Pregunto al traductor del Gray Notebook si ha trobat que Pla va reescriure extensament. Jo mateix he rellegit en català i anglès el Quadern Gris sense trobar res evident. De viatge cap a Oxford Peter Bush contesta: “La meva impressió és que es llegeix fluidament en català. És això producte d’un home madur reescrivint i polint, o d’un geni redactant el seu retrat de l’escriptor com a home jove? Els crítics de Pla tendeixen a suggerir que va reescriure molt, però mai donen capítol i vers. Tu en canvi sempre has manifestat que no ho va fer. Realment tant és per al lector, però evidentment des del punt de vista de la crítica resulta un fascinant trencaclosques que ningú sembla haver resolt adequadament.” Peter Bush afegeix: “Em va sorprendre el que diu Riding sobre Proust. Pel que jo he vist, Pla va llegir Proust. No podia haver escrit el que diu al Quadern Gris si no ho hagués fet.” Tampoc és cert que Pla barregi passat i present. En anglès el passat queda massa determinat quan en català té més flexibilitat. Quan Pla deixa Las Noticias per marxar dies després de corresponsal a París de La Publicitat, ja parla en passat: “Mentre vaig formar part de la redacció de Las Noticias.” No confon passat i present, és la realitat planiana viscuda el 1919. Pla va donar els dos quaderns gris de 1918 i 1919 al meu pare l’estiu de 1964, i El Quadern Gris sortia publicat pel Dia del Llibre 1966. A la correspondència que estic editant entre Pla i el seu editor Josep Vergés Matas enlloc parlen de reescriure. Les mil cartes de quatre dècades parlen sovint de llibres i articles reescrits, la immensa majoria per culpa de la censura, perquè Pla fou l’autor més censurat pel règim feixista. El meu pare va retardar treure El Quadern Gris a l’abril, quan finalitzava la censura prèvia, i no caldria reescriure res, perquè no el va presentar al Goebbels de Franco, Fraga Iribarne, el pare del PP. Els dos quaderns gris foren passats a màquina, corregits d’estil, picats d’impremta, i corregits en galerades i en compaginades. Variacions són segures. Els genis ho duen a dins des de joves. L’esnob Riding pot titular al New York Times que Catalunya no existeix, quan a “Molt Soroll per a no res” Shakespeare homenatjava Catalunya. Shakespeare era Shakespeare, i Pla, Pla.

(“Els esnobs contra Pla i Shakespeare,” per Josep C. Vergés, Diari de Girona, 15 juny 2014)


17 June 2014 - Posted by | Culture/Cultura |


  1. Quadern Gris, sublim. L’acabo de rellegir!

    Nota de l’editor: En anglès està molt bé també i fàcil de llegir. El pots recomanar!

    S.: Ja ho faré. Pla forever!


    Comment by S. | 18 June 2014 | Reply

  2. I liked the most recent post on the Quadern Gris though I think you’re a bit hard in Riding – His is a great review! And the title points perhaps to the fact that Catalan is a language without its rightful state

    Note from the editor: Riding needs a good hiding. Critics tend to be snobs by definition, reviewing what they themselves cannot produce. A translator at least has some creative powers. I am not so kind on the headline as you. Catalonia has been a country for 1,000 years with a parliament 80 years before England. Look at his mistatement on Proust and stating Pla translated his notebook into Spanish (No it was Dionisio Ridruejo). Still it was generously condesceding of the NYT to talk about a language without a country. I admit the headline was probably NYT’s and not Riding’s.


    Comment by Peter | 23 June 2014 | Reply

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