Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New counter-terrorism proposals would infringe basic human rights

Proposed amendments to the Spanish criminal code that would expand the range of crimes defined as “terrorism” to include vague language and overly broad categories of offences would infringe people’s basic human rights, said Amnesty International ahead of a parliamentary debate today.
“The proposed definition of terrorism includes so many crimes that it is rendered virtually meaningless. The parliament should reject any proposals that would violate basic rights,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.
“It would seem that anything from certain forms of expression and association to hacking and travelling could be labelled and prosecuted as terrorism. The suggested definition is overly broad and some elements so vague that even a seasoned lawyer would have trouble knowing for certain what would constitute a terrorist act.”
“What Spain needs to fight terrorism is the exact opposite: an exact and legally precise definition of what crimes constitute ‘terrorism’.” And any new measures must be necessary and proportionate to the actual threat.”

The proposed amendments, if adopted, could threaten the rights to freedom of expression and association, the presumption of innocence, freedom of movement, the right to privacy, and the right to leave and return to one’s country.
“In the aftermath of the Paris attacks and stepped up counter-terrorism initiatives across Europe, governments must remain vigilant to ensure that their efforts to thwart future attacks do not come at the expense of human rights,” said Julia Hall.
“Respecting human rights is essential to maintaining security and not an obstacle to keeping people safe.”
Among the numerous amendments up for debate is an expansion of the definition of terrorism to include acts such as “disruption” of public order; “resistance” against public authorities and “reckless”, including unwittingly supporting a terrorist enterprise.
One new proposal would outlaw travelling, or planning to travel, outside Spain to collaborate with militant groups or to train with them, even if no such training occurs or no so-called terrorist act is committed. Information sharing, including from foreign intelligence services, raises the prospect of evidence extracted under torture being shared and used for intelligence purposes.
Making a statement on social media that could be perceived as inciting others to commit violent attacks would now also be outlawed in Spain, even if the statement could not be directly linked to an act of violence.
The penalties associated with the already existing offence of “justification” of terrorism, which includes the “humiliation” of victims of terrorism or their families, would be increased. Aggravating circumstances would include dissemination of messages across the Internet or through the media.   

Amnesty International

Read more »

Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview with the Coronela (Barcelona's militia) taylor

As Catalonia moves to recover her freedom, lost by force of arms in 1714, she is also working hard to recover her military traditions and values. Liberty and responsibility are but two sides of the same coin, one cannot exist without the other, and any nation seeking to rejoin the international community as a free and equal member must be ready to do her duty when it comes to contributing to peace and security. One of the aspects of Catalonia's normalization is the return of the Coronela, her capital's militia, currently in the shape of a military re-enactment group, with the support of Barcelona City Council.

The "Coronela": Barcelona City's Militia. Made up of reservists, civilians under military discipline when called up to serve. Manning was in the hands of the city's guilds, while responsibility for equipment was shared with the Crown. Each guild provided the personnel for a company. The Coronela expanded to five battalions during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), in which it played a key role in the defence of Barcelona. Other Catalan towns had similar units.

One of the key aspects of military re-enactment is the provision of accurate, historically faithful, uniforms. The following is a brief interview with Maria Victòria Verderes i Blach, who serves as taylor for the Coronela.



What is the main difficulty involved in tailoring historical uniforms?

The main one is being faithful to their design and function. The reason is that they were not just a dress to cover one's body. Instead, many also served to protect weapons, for example.
Another problem is the difficulty in finding certain items. For example, it is nowadays difficult to find stripes of a colour resembling copper, or rusty metal, which were in widespread use at the time. What we then do, in order to get this tone, is to dye them with copper-colour shoe cream. We also try not to make the excellent sewing machines we currently enjoy conspicuous. We rather try to hand-sew as much as we can. Whenever possible, we follow the patterns that we are lucky to still find, half lost and half buried, in for example some Italian museums, translating their contents to a comprehensible language.

Are you happy about your work with La Coronela?

I have only spent a short time cooperating with this institution, but I am very proud of being able to contribute with my work to help a group of people passionate about history, to make known to the public a series of deeds that until now had been buried and forgotten. Above all, we are motivated by a Patriotic feeling, a duty towards our country, so many times treated unjustly. La Coronela's goal is to reach 3,000 members, as the city guilds used to bring together united by the same wish: to fight to defend our liberties!










Are you sensing a growing interest in Catalonia's military heritage, uniforms included?

I can feel a growing interest in our historical heritage, indeed, and not just our military heritage. More widely, in our traditions, be they dances, cuisine, customs, festivals... However, what the Coronela wants to avoid is to be considered part of Catalan folklore, since we are trying it to be what it used to be: an organization under military discipline, with military ranks and rules. We want the Coronela to become, in the future, the city's honorary guard. This would amount to paying homage, 300 years later, to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend Catalonia from the overwhelming attack by absolutist forces.

 

Read more »

Friday, February 6, 2015

Catalan Committee in Solidarity with Kurdistan to rally in Barcelona




We, people from KurdisCat – Comitè Català de Solidaritat amb el Kurdistan (Catalan Committee in Solidarity with Kurdistan), have called a demonstration in Barcelona co-ordinated with other actions taking place worldwide.

When
Day: February 7th.
Place: Passeig de Gràcia, 7.
Barcelona
Time: 17 p.m.

The international demonstrations, encouraged by Kongreya Civaken Demokratîk a Kurdîstanî yen Ewropa (KCD-E, Democratic Society Congress of Kurds in Europe) are based on three claims:


• Make a call for international solidarity with Kobanê (Syria) and Sinjar (Iraq), currently under siege by the Islamic fundamentalists of ISIS.

• Demand the end of the EU ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the release of Abdullah Öcalan.

• Claim and give support to the role that women are playing in the Kurdish movement. The Barcelona protest will take place alongside actions in València and Madrid the same day. With this three claims we would like to show the Catalan people’s solidarity with the Kurdish resistance in Kobanê and make a call to our society to take an step forward in helping Kurdistan.

The demonstration is supported by the civil society. (1)

Find us: Twitter: @KurdisCat – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kurdiscat – Blog: http://kurdiscat.blogspot.com

Facebook page of the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/365462886970393/?pnref=story


(1) Up to now : Intersindical-CSC, Solidaritat Catalana, Esquerra Unida i Alternativa, Estat Català, Comitè Català de Solidaritat amb el Tibet, Ateneu Sa Fera Ferotge, Assemblea Llibertària Vallès Oriental, Reagrupament Independentista, Candidatura d'Unitat Popular - Mataró, Assemblea Llibertària L'Oca de Gràcia, Help Catalonia, Candidatura d'Unitat Popular - Barcelona, Arran - Sabadell, Endavant (OSAN), Associació Salut i Ecologia, Procés Embat, Barcelona Radical, Comissions Obreres, Plataforma No-Sí, Partisans Bohemis

Read more »

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Interview with Afshin Berahmand

Interview with Afshin Berahmand, a Kurdish journalist based in Denmark who is writing an article on Catalan independence. Afshin has asked KurdisCat fou our opinions because he is writing an article for a Danish newspaper on the right to independence for Catalunya. We asked him too about his personal opinions, Catalonia and, of course, Kurdistan.

Which part of Kurdistan are you from?
I was born in Iran, which makes me officially and Iranian Kurd. However, growing up in Denmark makes me loose my "Iranian"hood. I feel kurdish and only kurdish in that sense.
Did you travel to the country there?
I have never been in Iran because my family members are political refugees, so when I go to Kurdistan I go to the parts in Iraq or Turkey. My favourite city is Diyarbakir.
It is difficult to live with two identities or you don't? 
I have no problem with identity, I am Kurdish, Danish, European, middle eastern, and I am not bothered so much by not having a country, I just don't want to be Iranian or Turkish or Arab because I am none of that.

Can you, shortly, explain your personal experience being Kurdish but living in Europe?
I am more European than anything. European Danish Kurd maybe, but not Iranian. Also I see Diyarbakir in Turkey or Erbil in Iraq as my own historic home country. I am sad that there is so much reluctance towards people from the Middle East in Europe. We are not the same. There are problems within immigrant communities but in my view they are to a larger extent socio-economical problems than religious for instance. And kurds, Turks, Arabs, Persians, even Arabs from different countries are not the same, so I don't want to take blame for something that many Arabs do that kurds don't or the other way around. 

Which perspectives for Kurdistan did you see as possible? Could end tne endless suffereing of this country?
Well, in a fantasy world an independent Kurdistan would solve many things, but not all. In my view perhaps Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan can become a country and Turkish Kurds can form some sort of self-government.

During the late 1800's the Kurdish nationalist movement had two fractions, one pro-iranian with a country with equality between all indo-Arian people, Kurds, Persians, lur, baloch, and other groups in modern day Iran, but the Persians made everything Iranian Persian, a lot like the spaniards. They say we are all spaniards or Iranians but everything is Castillano and Persian.
How did you know about Catalonia and what's your opinion of her own process?
I knew about Catalunya through the basque question actually. I have some basque friends and they introduced me to the issues in Spain and I came to like the works of Pau Casals and later read books and documentaries on Catalan identity, I felt I could relate and have a warm heart for both Catalan and Basque people, culture and languages. One Catalan artist told me that he felt like being Spanish also meant being anti-Catalan, and I could relate to that 100%.

As far as Catalan independence goes, I stress the fact that any government should allow the people to express its free will. If 80% want independence the central government has to listen to its people if it wants to be perceived as legitimate. Some activism in the EU is also a possibility.
We are fully compromised in solidarity between Catalonia and Kurdistan, which way you would find better to express this solidarity?
We have two very rich countries in spanish Catalunya and iraqi Kurdistan. I hope the two regions will develop strong bonds, through sports, business, culture and political ties. Also show the world that Christian and Muslim people can feel like brothers and sisters. I am myself in my last year in law school and I worked for the Danish ministry of foreign affairs at the United Nations in New York iPad realized there is no international human rights platform to discuss the issues pertaining to situations like ours. There should be forums like that and the governments of both Catalunya and Kurdistan should fund scholarships for young people that want to educate and evolve the doctrine of self determination, so we will be the best at providing legal arguments for our freedom to choose our political identity.

Interview by KurdisCat - Catalan Solidarity Kurdistan Committee (Desteya Katalan ji bo Piştgiriya Kurdistanê)

Read more »

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Castellers - the human towers

The origins of this Catalan tradition of building human towers dates back to the 18th century. It was in the small town of Valls, about 40 km west of Barcelona, that the inhabitants started building the towers, The individual groups (colles) started to compete in sporting events. Thus, not only the building itself was invented, but also the competition.
 

Building castelles is still a young tradition in Barcelona.

The different levels of a castell

The towers at that time resembled very much the ones of today, the basic structure of a castell, as they are called in Catalan, having barely changed. Such a tower always consists of three parts. The basis is the so-called "Pinya", a relatively large ring, onto which the weight of the load above is distributed, and which stabilizes the structure. This ring also softens the fall of the castellers, when the tower falls apart.
Depending on the height of the tower, one or two additional ring-shaped floors ("Manilles") are put on top of the pinya.

On top of this, the actual tower is built. The "tronc", Catalan for trunk, consists of several levels with a specific number of people. Depending on the number and distribution of the up to 9 people of a ring, each castell has a name of its own.
Climbing to the top of the tower is only allowed for kids, because of their low weight. They form the "pom de dalt", the tower dome.
Hierarchy of the castell

The technique of building a castell is frequently trained. Each casteller has his own position and function within the castell, even if the pinya seems to form at random to an outsider. Once the pinya is set up, the members of the manilles climb up in a pre-defined order and form the first rings. The strongest have to carry most of the weight at the bottom, and the lightest go up into the tower.

Finally, the "anxenta" climbs up to the top and remains there only for a few seconds to raise his or her arm to salute the crowds. The tower is crowned and the goal is almost reached. The castell now has to be de-constructed without falling apart, a procedure as tricky and trained as the build-up. Nowadays, children often wear a foam-padded helmet.

There are some special variants, in which the trunk is built in the opposite order. A level is set-up and then lifted up from below, where the next lower level is formed.

During the building process, a flute and a drum play the "Toc de Castells", a melody that is to indicate the different construction phases of the tower and to stir up the emotions and which also accompanies the castellers upon their entry and exit to the scene.

Performances

Traditionally, the castellers perform their tower building during the main parts of larger festivals. Usually, three colles come together and build their human edifices. Nowadays, the towers are also often built outside of the festivals – the actual season goes from June to November.
Check the website of the Castellers de Barcelona for an updated schedule. If you have the chance to watch the building of a castell, do so as it really is a very special event.

The castellers in Barcelona

The building of castells is a rather rural tradition, which also explains why the first club in the city, the Castellers de Barcelona, was founded quite late in 1969. The founding members of the coll are mostly former citizens of Villafranca, not far away from Barcelona. There were some earlier groups, but they remained unsuccessful and no longer exist.
The Castellers de Barcelona kept on refining their technique and the towers became higher and higher.

While in the 1970s, 7-level castells were built, the already have 9 levels today. This level of difficulty has only been achieved by 10 of the colles of the casteller association. The "Coordinadora the Colles Castelleres de Catalunya" comprises 60 colles.

Origins of building castells

The castells have their origins in a traditional folklore dance in the city of Valls. The steps of the dance were accompanied with the flute, as it is still played today during the tower building. At the end of the dance a small human tower was built. This probably has encouraged the ambitions of the dancers: the towers started becoming a phenomenon of their own, and rivalling groups started building higher and higher towers. It is assumed, that the castellers were officially separated from the traditional dance by the end of the 19th century.

Source: http://barcelona.de/en/barcelona-castellers-human-towers.html

Read more »

Monday, January 26, 2015

Inside the Austrian monarchy.

In the sixteenth century, the house of Austria ascended to the Spanish thrown. Catalonia struggled to conserve its laws and institutions in front of a markedly absolutist monarchy. The Count Duke of Olivares, who was the legal representative of Philip IV, was especially aggressive with Catalonia by insisting that this region subject itself to the style and laws of Castilla.
In 1516, with the ascension of Charles I to the thrown, who was the grandson of the Catholic Kings, emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and Maria of Burgoyne, lady of Flanders and of the Franc County, the instauration of the house of Austria in Catalonia was inaugurated. The union of the Kingdom of Aragon with Castilla was purely dynastic; that which was common to the different kingdoms was their monarchs, who were known by differing forms of address: of Castilla, of Aragon and counts of Barcelona. The progressive isolation of Catalonia in the international scene commenced with this monarchy composed of diverse states, having its own governing systems and laws.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Catalonia conserved its own laws, privileges and institutions, which is a fact that absolutely limited the royal power. However, it found itself in a very weakened, demographical and economical situation. This was the origin of the permanent conflict between the institutional authorities of Catalonia and the king: on the one hand, the limitation of royal authority and, on the other, the growing demands for subsidies in the Corts.

The recently constituted Consell Suprem d’Aragó [Supreme Council of Aragon] was the bridging organism between the king and his representative in the kingdom, the viceroy. This mechanism of government was the link, which was in permanent tension, between Catalonia and the Hispanic empire. The conflict increased as the royal wish found itself hindered by the laws and institutions of the region.

After a century and a half of penuries, an economical recuperation in the countryside was initiated, where the integration of the abandoned farmhouses and the consequent amplification of the land of the country houses started to bear fruits. Commerce and manufactured goods, mainly textiles, also saw a revival and, in spite of the prohibition to trade directly with America, Catalan traders found alternative ways to do it.

However, the relative prosperity coincided with the diffusion of bandits all over the region. Amongst the bandits there were marginalised farmers and impoverished rural noblemen who gathered in groups affiliated around two major parties: the Nyerros and the Cadells. The real adscription to these two grand parties, however, was not all that clear. The truth is that this phenomenon channelled the economical and social discontentment, in spite of the incipient recuperation, which affected different social classes, privileged and ‘poble menut’.

In parallel, during the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the Generalitat fully acted as the governing organ of the Principality, guarantor of some constitutions and laws in before the monarchs of the house of Austria. With Philip III and Philip IV, the economical difficulties of the monarchy reached their most critical point and it was during the reign of this last monarch that the unease of the Catalans and their institutions finally exploded. One of the principal protagonists of the royal aggressiveness towards Catalonia was the legal representative of Philip IV, the Count Duke of Olivares, who was the author of a centralising policy and of the subjecting of Catalonia to the style and laws of Castilla. The political parameters of the monarch and the count duke were completely different from those of the Catalan institutions.

Read more »

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Floral games

The Floral Games were Catalan literature’s most important launching pad in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, and an axis about which revolved a large proportion of the literary creation of the ‘Renaixença’ period. Different lines of thought can be found at the root of its conception: the ‘troubadour’ genre fashion, the discovery of a Barcelona medieval competition in books and, probably, the influence of the Rousillon writers Josep Tastú and P. Puiggarí.
The project, which would finally result in the celebration of the Floral Games in 1859, thanks to A. de Bofarull’s tenacity and the support of Barcelona’s Town Hall, would first be tried out by the ‘Acadèmia de Bones Lletres’ (ABL) [The Academy of Good Writing] (1841/1857). The competition would restore the figure of the adjudicator (A. de Bofarull, J. Cortada, V. Amer, Milà Fontanals, J. Ll. Pons Gallarza, J. Rubió and V. Balaguer). However, this re-establishment of a tradition of literary contests should be seen more as a historically guaranteed essential adaptation, more than a restoration of an old custom which would find an essential social complicity. For this reason, Barcelona’s ‘Consistori de la Gaia Ciència’ would be appealed to and, by coincidence, the name ‘Floral Games’, which corresponds to the literary competitions held in Toulouse since 1515, would be adopted. The historical feel of the contest would upset the members of some literary sectors, who would delight in parodying them and calling them old-fashioned: Santiago Rusiñol would satirise them in ‘Lo Niu Guerrer, els Jocs Florals de Can Prosa’ [War’s nest, the Floral Games of Prose’s House].

In spite of the above, the Floral Games would become a first class cultural and social event: if we examine the list of the contest’s presidents, adjudicators or assistants we can see that practically all of the classes of Catalan society of the time had some part to play with the games. Even those who had delighted in criticising the idea would eventually take part, more or less with enthusiasm, from 1866 onwards. The Floral Games would also become a focal point of reference for all of the artistic creation of the Region. The creation of the Floral Games of ‘Lo Rat Penat’ (1879) in Valencia, or the proliferation of floral contests all over the Catalan Region, were very good indicators that the project was well accepted in the society of the time.

The progressive consolidation of the contest also enabled the inception of a series of prizes that would greatly contribute to the encouragement of participation and the writing of other genres, different to the well-known triplet: faith, fatherland and love. At the same time, this consolidation would mean that the aesthetical tenet of the Games would widen and develop in accordance with the Catalan literary models and movements, as can be seen if we review the list of different masters in ‘Gai Saber’: Balaguer, Guimerà, Verdaguer, Costa Llobera, Maragall, etc. Furthermore, the social projection attained by the Floral Games favoured the recovery of readers of the new literary works written in Catalan, and would also favour a series of incipient editorial ventures coupled with a certain amount of commercial endeavours: the annual volume of the ‘Jocs Florals’ [Floral Games], ‘Lo Gay Saber’, and ‘La Renaixença’.

Floral Games edited in Mèxico during repression
The Floral Games became a competition that promoted the continuity of Catalan culture, enabling it to face many difficult moments. Thus, as a result of its suspension, ordered by the military authority in 1902, the Floral Games were held in Sant Martí del Canigó; later on, during Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, they found refuge in Toulouse (1924) and in private households. Only the Civil War would manage to put an end to the historic continuity represented by the Games which, after 1941, would be reconstituted, in exile, under the name ‘Jocs Florals de la Llengua Catalana’ [Floral Games of the Catalan Language], and would be continue to be held until the present time in different European and American cities. The last Games celebrated in exile were held in Munich (1877); the following year they were again celebrated in Barcelona, coinciding with those that, since 1941, were to be held clandestinely in that city, although since 1971, publicly. With the changes introduced to the original conception of the Games in 1992, they have become a part of the ‘Setmana de la Poesia de Barcelona’ [Barcelona’s Week of Poetry].

Read more »

Friday, January 23, 2015

Great Britain and the Anglo-Catalan Society

Catalan studies began in English-speaking counuiesl in the 1920's, in Great Britain, with professors Ignasi González-Llubera, at Queen's University in Belfast (Northern Ireland), and Edgar Allison Peers, at the University of Liverpool. González-Llubera and Peers opened the doors of British university studies to Catalan literature and linguistics. While at Liverpool, Peers began the journal Bulletin of Hispanic -initially Spanish- Studies. 

He was particularly interested in Ramon Llull, and he also published severa1 books on the Spanish Civil War, such as Catalonia Infelix (London, 1937). In 1948 he created the first lectureship in Catalan. The group of British scholars interested in Catalan grew, and others such as W.J. Entwistle and J.B. Trend became involved. Josep M. Batista i Roca, a Catalan exile who became a professor at Cambridge, coordinated everyone's efforts and the result was the founding of the Anglo-Catalan Society (ACS)*in 1954. Since then, the first intemational organization dedicated to Catalan studies holds a conference each year. Although the first meeting was held in Oxford in 1955, since then the majority have been held in London. 
It goes without saying that the ACS played an important role in organizing the Third Intemational Conference on Catalan Language and Literature3, which was held in Cambridge in April, 1973. in addition, from its beginnings the ACS funded one of the prizes given at the "Jocs Florals de ,la Llengua Catalana" when they were held in exile. Currently, it funds a scholarship for young Catalan scholars who want to study at a British university. Regarding publications, the ACS edited the proceedings of the Cambridge conference4, and in 1977 organized a special issue on Catalan culture of the joumal Vida Hispanica (the joumal of the British Association of Spanish and Portuguese Teachers) as an introduction to Catalan culture for British Hispani~ts.i~n 1980, the ACS began publishing a series of monographs on Cataian topics: the Anglo-Catalan Society Occasional Publications (ACSOP).6 In addition to these activities, of course, the ACS also works toward incorporating Catalan studies into the curricula at British uni~ersities.I~n the past few years, with the help of the Generalitat de Catalunya's Comission to Promote the teaching of Catalan in Universities Outside Catalonia, new teaching assistantships have been funded at some universities, such as Salford-Manchesterand Oxford, and the chances are that it ail looks as if applications received from the University of London and other universities as well will be funded in the future. 

THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND THE NORTH AMERICAN CATALAN SOCIETY 

Catalan studies in North Arnerica, as one can well imagine, began later and on a much smaller scale, which makes the increase in interest in the past ten years al1 the more remarkable interest in Catalan began with Josephine de Boer, after her visit to Majorca in 1927. Some years later, in the 1940's, Joan Coromines became a professor at the University of Chicago, and he became part of a group of young scholars who for many years worked to awaken an interest in Catalan
at several Universities in the United States and Canada. 

Their work, . combined with the efforts of Professor de Boer8,resulted in the first section on Catalan-Proven$al at the 1958 annual meeting of the Modem Language Association. This section, which in many ways can be considered as the forerunner of the North American Catalan Society, became much more active in the 1960's, when several European professors in the field, most of whom were Catalan, took jobs in the United States and Canada. 

These professors created programs, and as a result their former students are now working on and publishing in Catalan studies. This increase in both teachers and scholars has been primarily in the fields of philology, linguistics, and literature, although other scientific fields have also been represented; the architect Josep Lluis Sert,
the doctors Folc Pi, Giner Sorolla, and Pi Sunyer, the scientist Joan Oró, historians such as Robert 1. Burns, Gabriel Jackson, and Thomas Bisson, the art historian George R. Collins and the philosopher Josep Ferrater Mora al1 come
to mind. In addition, prestigious figures such as Pau Casals, Joan Miró and Antoni Tapies, to name but a few, were al1 directly tied to Catalan culture in North American art circles. Al1 of this led Josep Roca-Pons, professor at Indiana University, and Albert Porqueres-Mayo, professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, to organize a conference with the hope of formallyestablishinganassociationforCatalanstudies. 

The long-awaited First Colloquium on Catalan Studies in North America was held on March 30, 31, and April 1, 1978 at the University of Illinois. The conference directors were Professors Roca-Pons and Porqueras-Mayo, and the honorary president was Dr. Antoni M. Badia i Margarit, who at the time was the Chancellor of the University of Barcelona. The meeting was a great success: close to 100 people from five Canadian and twenty U.S universities attended, 38 papers were presented9, and the statutes of the NACS were approved1° The prirnary goal of the association is to promote Catalan culture and encourage the teaching of the Catalan language and its culture in U.S. and Canadian universitiesl1, and as such as the Champaign-Urbanameeting it was also agreed to hold future conferences and to publish the proceedings. Since then four conferences have been held: at the Yale University (April, 1979)lZ at the University of Toronto (April, 1982)13, in Washington, D.C. (end of May, 1984)14,and at the University of South Florida at Tampa (March, 1987)15 Currently, the NACS has over 300 members and will hold its sixth meeting in May, 1990 at the University of British Columbia inVancouver. 

THE "CATALAN REVIEW" 

The interest in Catalan studies in North America led the NACS at the 1984 Washington conference to consider a new challenge: starting an intemational journal of Catalan studies. Entitled The Catalan Review: International Journal of Catalan Culture, this multi-disciplinary, bilingual (Catalan and English) joumal appears twice a year and is open to al1 scholars interested in the language and its culture. The first issue appeared in June, 1986. In addition to articles, which are the bulk of the joumal, there are literary selections translated into English, bibliographic information, and information on cultural events held in Catalan-speaking areas. In addition to the regular issues, two special, monographic issues have appeared to date: 

the first on the writings of J.V. Foix (1, l), and the second on the novelist Merci? Rodoreda (11, 2)16. 

NOVES PERSPECTIVES 

In addition to Great Britain, the United States and Canada, Catalan studies are slowly gaining ground in other English-speaking countries and in other continents. Specifically, 1 arn referring to the new tradition in Cataian studies (since the 1970's) at the La Trobe University in Bundoora (Victoria), Australia, which has expressed interest in creating an assistantshipinCatalan, and at the University of Auckland (New Zealand), which has aiso expressed interest in establishing an assistantship. 

The Office of Language Policy of the "Generalitat de Catalunya" will soon publish the results of a survey on the current situation of Cataian studies around the world. There, the reader will be able to find additional, up-to-date information on Cataian studies in English-speaking countries. 




CATALAN STUDIES IN ENGLISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES 

August Bover i Font Universitat & Barcelona 


1.-For relatively cment information on the spread of Catalan studies abroad and not only in English-speaking countries, see the papers published in "Estudis de la Llengua i Literatura Catalanes". V (= El Catala a Europa i Adrica) (1982) and my summary articlesLa Difurió Internacwnai dels Estudis Catalans,"Revue des Langues Romanes" (in press), and La Catalanística y su Difurión Internacional en la Actualidad, in the proceedings of the 1 Simposio Internacional Hispanica Posnaniensia-89, organized by A. Mickiewicz University in Poznán (Poland), which will soon appear as the third and fourth volumes of the journal "Hispanica Posnaniensia". 

2.- See Robert Pring-Mili, TheAngfo-CatdanSociety. "Buiietin of Hispanic Studies". Liii (1976). 99-100, Alan Yates. L'Angfo-CatdanSociety, "Serra d'Or" (July-August 1978), 53-54. the booklet TheAnglo-Catalan Sociefy, 1954-1979 (Sheffield 1979). and Geoffrey J. Walker. Llngfo-Catah Society, 1954-1981. in "Estudis de Llengua i Literatura Catalanes". V (= El Cata16 a Europa i a A d r i c a ) (Montserrat 1982). 21-38. 

3.- SeeFrancescValiverdÚ,Abril a Cambridge.UnEncontreInternacwnaiSobreLIengua i Literatura Catalanes, "Serra d'Or" (May 1973). 33-34. 
4.- Actes del Tercer Col.loqui Internacional de Llengua i Literatura Catalanes. edited by R. B. Tate and Alan Yates (Oxford 1976).
5.- G. J. Walker. TheCatalanConnection.VidaHisphica, XXV, 2 (1977).
6.- To date five volumes have been published: 1) Salvador Giner, The Social Structure of Catalonia (Sheffield 1984). 2nd. ed.; 2) Joan Salvat-Papasseit, Selected Poems, edited by D. Keown and T. Owen (Sheffield 1982); 3) David Mackay, Modern Architecture in Barcelona (Sheffield 1985); 4) Forty Mo&rn Catalan Poems. Homage to Joan Gili, edited by Arthur Terxy (Sheffield 1987); and 5 ) Eliseu Trenc Baiiester and Alan Yates, Alexandre de Riquer (1856-1920). The British Connection in Catalan Modernism (Sheffield 1988). This year another volume wili appear: the translation of Salvador Espriu'sPrimera HLrtoria d'Esther. 

7.- See Alan Yates. L'Ensenyament del Catalá a les Universitatsde la Gran Bretanya i Irlanda, in Actes del l e r . Symposium sobre I'Ensenyament del Catala a No-Catalamparlants (Vic 1982) and Max W. Wheeler - Alan Yates. Els Estudis Catalani a les Universitatsde les IIles Brithniques (Regne Unit i República &Irlanda). "Estudisde Llengua i Literatura Catalanes",V (= El Catalá a Europa i Amirica) (1982), 179-194. 
8.- North American Catalan scholars dedicted a posthurnous volume in her honour: Catalan StudieslEstudis sobre el Catala. edited by Joseph Gulsoy and Josep M. Sola-Sol6 (Barcelona 1977).
9.- See Carme Rei-Granger and Jaume Martí-Olivella, I Col.loqui d'Estudis Catalam a Nord-Adrica, "Sena d'Or" (September 1978). 33-35, and the volume of conference papers: Estudis de Llengua, Literatura i Cultura Catalanes, edited by A. Porqueras-Mayo. Spurgeon Baldwin and Jaume Martí-Olivella(Montser~at1979). 

10.- For information on the background of the NACS and its conferences, see A. Porqueras-Mayo, Els Estudis Catalaas i la North American Catalan Society (NACS), "Estudis de Llengua i Literatura Catalanes". W (= Miscel.kinia Antoni M. Badia i Margarit. 4 ) (1986). 231-243; Carme Rei-Granger and Jaume Marti-Olivella, 1 Col.loqui d'Esrudis Catalatu a Nord-Akrica. "Sena d'Or" (September 1978), 33-35; Josep Roca-Pons, La NACS (NorthAmerican Catalan Society), "Estudisde Llengua i Literaura Catalanes", XII, 43-54; Nathaniel B. Smith, La Catalanistica Nord-Americana ha "Sortit de 1Armariv, "Serra d'Or" (January 1985) 37-40; i August Bover i Font, The North American Catalan Society. "Catalonia culture", 8 (March 1988), 15. i North American CatalanSociety: Des6 Aniversari, "Revista de Cataiunya", 24 (Novernber 1988), 141-144. 
11.- For information on the teaching of Cataian in North America, see Joseph Gulsoy, Els Estudis Catalans a Nord-Adrica, "Estudis de Llengua i Literatura Catalanes". V (= El Catala a Europa i a A d r i c a ) (1982). 246-267; N . B. Smith. La Catalarústica Nord-Americana ha "Sortit de Iürmari", "Serra d'Or" (January 1985), 37-40; A. Porqueras-Mayo, Els Estudis Catalans i la North American Catalan Sociefy (NACS), "Estudis de Llengua i Literatura Catalanes". XII (= Miscel.lhia Antoni M. Badia i Margarit, 4) (1986). 231-243; i Milton M. Azevedo. Lu Projeccib dels Estudis Catalans als Estats Units. "Butlleti del Col.legi Oficial de Doctors i Llicenciats", 62 (April 1988), 66-69. 

12.- See Actes del Tercer Col.loqui d'Estudis Catalans a Nord-Amirica, edited by Manuel Duran, Albert Porqueras-Mayo and Josep Roca-Pons (Montserrat 1982).
13.- See Actes del Tercer Col.loqui d'Estudis Catalans a Nord-Amirica (Toronto. 1972) Estudis en Honor de Josep Roca-Pons, edited by Patricia Boehne. Josep Massot i Muntaner and Nathaniel B. Smith (Montserrat 1983). 

14.- See Actes del Quart Col.loqui d'Estudis Catalansa Nord-Adrica (Washington,D.C., 1984) Estudis en Honor düntoni M. Badia i Margarit. edited by Nathaniel B. Srnith, Josep M. Solk-Solé, Mer& Vidal Tibbits and Josep Massot i Muntaner (Montsenat 1985). 

15.- See Actes del Cinqué Col.loqui d'Estudis Catalans a Nord-Amirica (Tampa-St. Augustine. 1987), edited by Philip D. Rasico and Curt J. Wittiin (Montserrat 1988). 


16.-VolumeIii(no. 1)issetto appearinJune. 1989.




The study and learning of Catalan outside the region


With Franco’s victory, many intellectuals and scholars of Catalan went into exile and set-up centres aimed at maintaining the culture in many points of the world. It was a new impulse for the study and learning of Catalan which continues to this day. In 2000, the Ramon Llull Institute was created with the aim of promoting the Catalan...
Read more »


Read more »

First Times in Catalonia


Prehistory in Catalonia
Urnfield Culture in northeast Iberia,
Late Bronze Age, c. 1300 BCE

The first known human settlements in what is now Catalonia were at the beginning of the Middle Palaeolithic. The oldest known trace of human occupation is a mandible found in Banyoles, described by some sources as pre-Neanderthal some 200,000 years old; other sources suggest it to be only about one third that old. Some of the most important prehistoric remains were found in the caves of Mollet (Serinyà, Pla de l'Estany), the Cau del Duc in the Montgrí mountain ("cau" meaning "cave" or "lair"), the remains at Forn d'en Sugranyes (Reus) and the shelters Romaní and Agut (Capellades), while those of the Upper Paleolithic are found at Reclau Viver, the cave of Arbreda and la Bora Gran d'en Carreres, in Serinyà, or the Cau de les Goges, in Sant Julià de Ramis. From the next prehistoric era, the Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic, important remains survive, the greater part dated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, such as those of Sant Gregori (Falset) and el Filador (Margalef de Montsant).

The Neolithic era began in Catalonia around 4500 BC, although the population was slower to develop fixed settlements than in other places, thanks to the abundance of woods, which allowed the continuation of a fundamentally hunter-gatherer culture. The most important Neolithic remains in Catalonia are the Cave of Fontmajor (l'Espluga de Francolí), The Cave of Toll (Morà), the caves Gran and Freda (Montserrat) and the shelters of Cogul and Ulldecona.

The Chalcolithic or Eneolithic period developed in Catalonia between 2500 and 1800 BC, with the beginning of the construction of copper objects. The Bronze Age occurred between 1800 and 700 BC. There are few remnants of this era, but there were some known settlements in the low Segrezone. The Bronze Age coincided with the arrival of the Indo-Europeans through the Urnfield Culture, whose successive waves of migration began around 1200 BC, and they were responsible for the creation of the first proto-urban settlements. Around the middle of the 7th century BC, the Iron Age arrived in Catalonia.


The rise of Iberian culture

During the period of Iberian civilization, the Catalan territory was home to several distinct tribes: the Indigetes in Empordà, the Ceretani in Cerdanya and the Airenosins in the Val d'Aran. The influx of Celtic peoples led to a characteristic blend of cultures known as Celtiberian, which was affected by the first arrival of colonists from Ancient Greece and Carthage; like the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, Catalonia participated in what became the Iberian culture. At this time Empúries (originally Greek Emporionmarket, then Emporiae), on the coast of what is now the Catalan province of Girona, a commercial enclave, founded from the Greek city of Phocaea in the 6th century BC.

From the 8th century BC to the 7th century BC the indigenous peoples came into contact with the colonizers, and the first iron objects are found in the area. From the 7th century BC to the middle of the 5th century BC, the process of Iberianization was consolidated. A period of plenty lasted from the middle of the 5th century BC until the 3rd century BC. Finally, after the 218 BC arrival of the Romans, the Iberian culture was absorbed into that of Rome.

Roman times
Roman conquest and
the provinces of Roman Hispania

Romanization brought a second, distinct stage in the ancient history of Catalonia. Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus arrived in Empúries, with the objective of cutting off the sources of provisions of Hannibal's Carthaginian army during the Second Punic War. After the Carthaginian defeat, and the defeat of various Iberian tribes who rose up against Roman rule, 195 BC saw the effective completion of the Roman conquest of the territory that later became Catalonia and Romanization began in earnest. The various tribes were absorbed into a common Roman culture and lost their distinct characteristics, including differences of language.

Most of what is now Catalonia first became part of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior; after 27 BC, they became part of Tarraconensis, whose capital was Tarraco (now Tarragona). The arrival of Roman administrative and institutional structures led to the development of a network of cities and roads, the adoption of agriculture based on cereals, grapes, and olives, the introduction of irrigation, the development of Roman law, and the adoption of the Latin language.

Read more »

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ramon Llull

Ramon Llull, Palma, Mallorca (Balearic Islands), 1232-1316 was a philosopher, theologian, novelist and poet

Ramon Llull is to Catalan literature what Shakespeare is to English, Dante to Italian, and Goethe to German literature. Llull placed his prose at the service of a great ideal - the peaceful conversion of people to Christianity through highly elaborate, distinct, beautiful, and irrefutable philosophical ideas. His genius is so great -he could write equally well in Latin, Catalan or Arabic- that even today his huge opus (of more than extant 265 titles) attracts the attention of countless literary specialists, philosophers, and theologians around the world.

He was born into a family possibly of noble Catalan stock. His father arrived in Mallorca with the troops of Catalan king James the Conqueror. Llull was born in the island during the period immediately after the conquest, and during his youth he was attached to the royal house. We know relatively little about his years as a courtier - he got married, had two children, and led the life that befitted his station. But at the age of thirty-one he was shaken by an experience that prompted a radical turn to his life - his so-called "conversion" that took place after five apparitions of Christ on the cross.

According to the testimony he offers in his Vida coetània (Contemporary Life), an autobiography dictated by Llull to some Carthusian monks in Paris not long before he died, after this experience a new life started for the convert, who would renounce his family, his social position, and all riches, in order to devote himself fully to the service of God. He did not enter any religious order, but rather conceived of the dedication of his life to God in terms of frenetic activity that can be summarised in three objectives: to preach to the infidels to the point of risking martyrdom; to write a book to refute the errors of these infidels (stating it would have to be "the best book in the world"); and to set up monastery schools where Arabic, together with other oriental languages, would be taught for the instruction of missionaries. In a word, Llull's overwhelming obsession right up to the final moments of his life would be the conversion of Muslims, Jews and other infidels (especially the Tartars) to the Christian faith.

Yet, he lacked proper training for the task he had set himself. In 1265 he embarked on a period of self-education, including the study of Arabic, in the island of Mallorca. The period would end nine years later, in 1274, with the writing of the first great monument of Catalan literature: the huge Llibre de contemplació en Déu (Book of the Contemplation of God - 1273-1274). It was that same year that Llull, in the seclusion of a small hermitage in the Mallorcan mountain of Randa, had the experience of a divine revelation -subsequently known as the "Randa illumination"- in accordance with which he conceived of a system of universal scope to find the truth, a system that would infallibly lead to the conversion of infidels: this is the famous Art lul?liana (Llullian Art), which was to be materialised in the writing of his Art abreujada de trobar veritat (Abbreviated Art of Finding the Truth - 1274). As a result of this he came to be known as "Doctor Illuminatus". From this date onwards, Ramon Llull's life work revolves around his efforts to make his Art known. They include the use of literature as a vehicle for the dissemination of his ideals of reforming Christianity and of conversion of infidels, and he presented his ideas to popes and princes in order to summon the support of the powerful.

Llull was so convinced of his mission that he would travel to North Africa (specifically visiting Bejaia and Tunis) on a number of occasions in order to debate with Muslim theologians. We know that at the end of the year 1315 he was on one of these missionary trips, in Tunis; by around March of the following year, at the age of 83 or 84, he had died. It is unclear whether he died in Tunis itself, in Mallorca or during the return journey from Africa to his homeland: tradition has it that he was stoned to death, thereby becoming a martyr of the faith.

The quest of Ramon Llull's life reveals a strong personality that manifested itself in the feverish activity that led him not just to travel indefatigably, but also to write a considerable number of books in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic (265, according to the latest catalogue compiled by Anthony Bonner). The core issue around which this huge literary opus revolves is the Art dictated to him by God on Mount Randa. All of Llull's works, whether literary or not, refer to this Art, which had to be rewritten a number of times in the attempt to make it more accessible since it clashed with the incomprehension of intellectual circles of the time. Hence, with a view to showing the way through the huge corpus of Llull's writings, critics have mainly accepted a division of his output into four periods, as suggested by Anthony Bonner, in keeping with the various changes the Llullian method underwent in its quest for truth.

The first period, known as the "Pre-Art Period", encompasses the last years of learning before the illumination of Randa (which is to say, between approximately 1271 and 1274). To this period belong the following works: a treatise on Logic in verse (his Lògica d'Algatzel (Logic of Algatzel - 1271-1272?) and the Llibre de contemplació en Déu (The Book of Contemplating God - 1273-1274), Llull's first great work. The "Quaternary Period" covers the years between 1274 and 1290 and is thus known because the basic principles that structure his Art appear in numbers that are multiples of four. The books that form part of the period are Art abreujada de trobar veritat (1274) and Art demostrativa (Demonstrative Art - 1283), and from these works two great novels were derived, Llibre d'Evast e d'Aloma e de Blaquerna (Book of Evast and Aloma and of Blanquerna - 1283) and the Fèlix o Llibre de meravelles (Fèlix or Book of Marvels - 1288-1289). From 1290, and until 1308, when Llull finally abandoned the rewriting of his Art, we witness a drastic reduction in the basic concepts of the method and a major change in the way it functions. The concepts now appear in numbers that are multiples of three, hence the name "Ternary Period" for this stage of Llull's writings. The work Ars inventiva (Art of Invention - 1290) inaugurates this period, which is closed with Art breu (Ars Brevis - 1308). One outstanding work from this time is Arbre de Ciència (Tree of Science - 1296-1297), together with the two best Llullian lyrical manifestations, Desconhort (Distress - 1295) and the Cant de Ramon (Song of Ramon - 1300). At the end of his life, from 1308 until his death in 1316, Llull put aside his Art and focused on writing brief tracts on specific issues of philosophy, theology and logic. This is known as his "Post-Art Period".

In Llull's production as a whole, there are two inseparable aspects, namely the literary and the doctrinal. In fact, what we know today as "literature" was, for Llull, no more than a vehicle of expression in the service of the missionary and apologetic content that is at the heart of his interests. This is clear, for instance, in his call to reform the art of the minstrels, a powerful instrument of dissemination of ideas in the 13th century, which he deemed to have strayed from its true purpose of praising God and helping to bring about the propagation of the Catholic faith. Llull, therefore, proposed a "spiritual minstrelsy", along the lines of St Francis of Assisi, who thought of himself, as Llull did, as "God's minstrel".

This use of literature for doctrinal purposes derives from a central idea in Llullian thought and praxis, namely the primacy of the "first intention" over the "second intention". For Llull, the first intention expresses the end to which the human being was created - to know, love and praise God. The second intention, on the other hand, refers to seeking benefits for oneself. To place the second before the first intention is to forget the reason of our existence. This, for Llull, is the source of sin and moral decadence, not just of the individual, but also of society as a whole. Llullian writing tries to be a writing of "the first intention", in other words, primarily addressed to the praise of God, and hence "literary expression", in the words of Jordi Rubió i Balaguer, is subordinated to doctrinal content.

One of the key ideas of Llull's thought with regard to this content is the use of "necessary reasons" in the exposition of the arguments. For Llull, necessary reasons are logical arguments that he sees as being acceptable in terms of necessity, self-evident and hence essential to interfaith dialogue. They reflect Llull's faith in well-ordered human thought that must be capable of capturing truth, which, for Llull is obviously that expressed by the Catholic articles of faith. One example of this may be found in the Llibre del gentil i dels tres savis (1274-1276?), a work in which a Jewish scholar, a Christian and a Muslim engage in a dispute that is very well ordered and highly correct in its forms, in accordance with the method proposed in Llull's work Art abreujada de trobar veritat for arguing with pagans about which of the three religions is the true one. This will be the religion that is not in contradiction with divine qualities and that therefore offers a more logical and complete idea of God in himself and in his relationship with creation. The starting point is the quest for truth, even if this involves rethinking the dogmas of faith. The most remarkable thing is that, in the end, the pagan does not make his choice known (although, obviously, the reader will think that he has opted for the Christian faith), which demonstrates the author's goodwill in leaving a door open to dialogue with non-believers. Trusting in reason as a means of understanding and reaching agreement on matters of faith is not exclusive to Llull in his historical context. However, he is certainly the author who develops this with the greatest perseverance, to the point of ceasing to cite the authorities, who are ineffective in reaching any understanding with Muslims and Jews.

Nonetheless, although he has sometimes been labelled as such, Llull cannot be considered a "rationalist" in the strict sense of the term since he was fully aware of the limitations of the mind in attaining understanding of the mysteries of faith. Will, identified with love and fervour, plays an essential role here, as a way of transcending the limitations of reason. All in all, Llull's thought is a personal approximation to the missionary task and to the exposition of doctrine that did not conform to the prevailing scholastic tenets of the 13th century. At the basis of Llullian thought is what Robert Pring-Mill called "a collective substratum of commonplaces", in other words, a compilation of knowledge about the world and about God that could be shared by intellectuals from the three monotheistic religions, and that is essentially founded in Neoplatonic cosmovision. One of the key concepts of this cosmovision is the analogy that Llull used to build his arguments. According to this, there is a significant relationship of similitude between the created world and the creator. God is the model, the exemplary source of all the created reality, and he is this because of his qualities and forms of dignity, which are disseminated throughout creation.

While the Platonic basis of Llullian philosophy is clear, his direct sources are not so evident since he never quotes them. Muslim philosophy scholars have identified Muslim sources in Llull's thought, which is totally logical if we attend to the context in which his training developed and his ability to read and write Arabic. Together with the concern for the conversion of the infidels, we find in the works of Llull another central issue: reform of the Christian world. Here, Llull starts out from his awareness that the majority of people were concerned with the second intention, neglecting the first intention at both individual and social levels. He responds by harshly criticising those that grasped at religious and temporal power, making a number of radical proposals that were very often based on the Christ-centred spirituality of the Franciscans and focused on the Gospels as a model of living. Thus, one of the central ideas of the Llullian reform is his exaltation of evangelical poverty. Like St Francis, he was in favour of "the Church of the poor". Indeed, in his novel Blaquerna, Llull suggests specific measures, for example that bishops should renounce two-thirds of their income and that the rich bourgeoisie should practise charity, even if the ideal state is that of total renunciation of earthly riches and coming closer to Christ through voluntary poverty, as is done by the parents of the central character of the novel. Llull is aware that his ideas clash headlong with the predominant values of his time and this perhaps explains the alternating moments of pessimism and proud affirmation in Llull's discourse in which he accepts the invective of his adversaries, even taking as his own their label of "Fool".

In fact, the characters in Llull's novels often behave like fools since their behaviour is not governed so much by the social conventions of the second intention as their desire to praise God. This makes them openly and vehemently critical of any behaviour that they may consider as deviating from the aim that is specified for the first intention, regardless of the status of the person criticised. It is moral strength that bestows the proper authority to rebuke a king, a bishop, or, if necessary, a pope. There is a work that clearly shows Llull's stance in this regard, namely the Disputatio Petri clerici et Raymundi phantastici (1311), also known as Phantasticus. Here, an aged Ramon Llull comes across a cleric on his way to the Council of Vienne (France). During the conversation that ensues between the two, Ramon explains why he is going to the Council: he is bearing a number of petitions that, for the umpteenth time, hope to achieve ecclesiastical powers for the organisation of a crusade, for unifying the military orders and for the foundation of monasteries for the training of missionaries. His interlocutor, however, turns out to be a simoniac cleric who is travelling to the Council in the hope of obtaining prebends for his nephews. If Llull's aims are in keeping with the first intention, those of the cleric abide by the second. The most significant aspect of all is that, throughout the dialogue, the sinner priest mocks Llull's intentions and calls him phantasticus (in other words, a madman, a lunatic or a harebrained dreamer).

Llull becomes aware, by dint of disappointments, that the real interests of his contemporaries are very far from his proposals, which often are labelled as utopian. In Desconhort, a long verse composition made up of sixty-nine stanzas, this feeling of bitterness is expressed through the dialogue with a hermit, who suggests to the author the possible causes of his failure. Finally, though, he always finds new strength to continue with his task: Llull convinces the hermit of the goodness of his ideas and of the need to continue struggling, thus winning over another companion who will take up the cause. As can be seen, literature plays an essential role in the expression of Llull's more personal ideas and not just his philosophical ones. His poetry, then, is outstanding for his personal, sincere and moving voice, in a milieu wherein the often empty reiteration of the clichés of courtly love predominated.

Thus, even if throughout history Llull the philosopher has overshadowed Llull the man of letters, the twentieth century saw a vindication of our author as a great prose and verse writer. If, as noted above, literature is for Llull a vehicle for transmitting certain contents, this is precisely why he is meticulously careful about literary style in his works. Llull's prose is elegant, logical and very modern for the 13th century. He achieves a fine balance in his sentences with an abundant use of double periods, expressing everything by means of a syntax that has a significant presence of subordinate clauses. Not surprisingly, he played an essential part in the creation of the Catalan literary language with his adoption of lexical solutions that that stem from the need to express philosophical or technical content in a language that did not yet have all its resources and that are fully integrated into the system today. 

As for his poetry, Llull borrows the standard forms of Occitan poetry, which he knew well, and adapts them to religious or, sometimes, even autobiographical content. The rhetorical ideas of Llull, as laid down in his Rhetorica nova (New Rhetoric) treatise (1301), do not come from the sonority of the words as a source of beauty in the discourse, but rather they focus on their content, their semantics. This idea is fully coherent with Llull's general position: to give priority to what is internal and therefore essential, over any appearance. The originality of his thought and the peerless quality of his literature have made of Llull the most outstanding figure of Catalan culture at all times and anywhere in the world.

After his death, he had followers from beyond our frontiers: not just in Castile, France, Italy or central Europe, but also in Russia, where there was a Llullian school in the 18th century (teaching Lullism). His thought greatly influenced figures such as Giordano Bruno and Leibniz, and his literature is still a stylistic model and a source of inspiration for many present-day Catalan authors.

 2000 Edicions 62

Read more »