A few years ago, we announced the purchase of a collection of Catalan and Spanish books from the library of Jonathan and Phillida Gili. Our blog post featured some of the gems of this wonderful acquisition.
We are pleased to report that this collection is now fully catalogued. A representative body of Catalan poetry from the mid-nineteenth century to the late-twentieth century covering the periods of the Renaixença, Modernisme, Noucentisme, Catalan Avant-garde, and post-war literary periods is particularly noteworthy.
Jacint Verdaguer (1845-1902) was one of the foremost representatives of the Renaixença movement, which promoted the recovery of signs of Catalan national identity, and above all, the Catalan language. His great epic poem La Atlàntida won the Jocs Florals de Barcelona (eng.: Floral Games) in 1877 in its three categories: country, faith and love. The poem became a classic of Catalan literature and strongly influenced later poets in Catalonia and abroad. Other works by Verdaguer in this collection include Bethlem (Barcelona, 1946), and Oda a Barcelona (Barcelona, 1902).
The Modernisme movement (approximately 1882-1911) aimed to transform Catalan culture by breaking away from an outdated and conservative society and embracing the most modern European cultural currents. Amongst its most representative writers are Joan Maragall (see Maragall: notes íntimes by Miquel d’Esplugues, published 1912 in Barcelona by Joan Gili) and Santiago Rusiñol, painter and poet whose work Oracions (Barcelona, 1897) also features in this collection. Oracions is thought to be the most archetypal piece of a total work of art from this period. It’s a poetic prose book with thirty-two drawings by Miquel Utrillo to illustrate the chapters of the work and music by Enric Morera for certain passages.
Also worth noting is Aplech de sonets (Barcelona, 1906) by Alexandre de Riquer, artist, writer and poet.
The Noucentisme (1906-1926) appeared as a natural continuation of the Modernisme. It also aimed to renovate Catalan culture, but under a new ideology and a vocabulary of its own. Josep Carner was one of its leading representatives. His work Els fruits saborosos represents the new aesthetic ideal of the period, based on the values of classicism and civility. Other works by him in this collection include Lligam : tria de poemes (Brussels, 1960s) and Segon llibre de sonets (Barcelona, 1907?). Guerau de Liost (pseudonym of Jaume Bofill i Mates) is another writer from this period. (see Somnis (Barcelona, 1913)).
The avant-garde literary movement in Catalonia understood the poetic work as a combination of visual and textual codes articulated through metaphor and figurative language. J.V. Foix was one of its advocates (see KRTU (Barcelona, 1932), illustrated by Joan Miró and Desa aquests llibres al calaix de baix (Barcelona, 1972)).
Also of relevance is a modest number of Spanish lyrical titles including sainetes (comic opera pieces in one-act) and zarzuelas (a Spanish lyrical genre alternating spoken and sung scenes). Some major composers of sainetes represented in this collection include Carlos Arniches, Antonio Paso and Guillermo Perrín (see El barbero de Sevilla and Bohemios by Perrín).