Books in Catalan about greed
At 11Onze we have taken a look at some of the books that have been written in Catalan about greed. How has this bad reputation been built up, which says that we Catalans have an excessive desire to acquire wealth in order to keep it?
Through all these greedy, pathetic, miserable and egomaniacal characters, Catalan writers have portrayed, not only the stinginess of the Catalan bourgeoisie and the meanness of the ‘lumpen’ who try to survive at all costs, but the society of their time as a whole, as pathologically ill as all those who inhabit it.
- ‘L’escanyapobres’ (1884), by Narcís Oller. The writer Narcís Oller (1846-1930) left Catalan literature some masterpieces. In ‘L’escanyapobres’, which is often compulsory reading in secondary school, he abandons romanticism and plunges fully into realism and naturalism. The novel narrates the misadventures of Oleguer, the miser who lives in the farmhouse of La Coma and who, because of his surly character, makes enemies with all the peasants of the region. Oleguer always shows two sides: on the outside, the hard-working man who maintains the farmhouse; and on the inside, the man obsessed with money who humiliates his subordinates. In addition to ‘L’escanyapobres’, it is obligatory to mention ‘La febre d’or’ (1890-1892), because it is the great novel of 19th-century Barcelona, where the bourgeoisie grows unchecked thanks to unhealthy speculation. The work is a portrait of a crucial moment in the history of Catalonia.
- ‘Terra Baixa’ (1897), by Àngel Guimerà. In Catalonia, especially during the first decades of the 20th century, we have been passionate about rural dramas, and the play by Àngel Guimerà (1845-1924) is possibly the one that best exemplifies this. ‘Terra Baixa’ starkly depicts the conflict between the imaginary highland and lowland. Based on a possessive love story, the drama deals with the miseries of life in the countryside, the hardships of Catalan households of that time and the hierarchical structure of rural societies.
- ‘Drames rurals’ (1904), by Víctor Català. Our Víctor Català (1869-1966), the pseudonym under which Caterina Albert published her work, also narrates the rural dramas of early 20th-century Catalonia. Club Editor compiles in three volumes the stories of this great Catalan author, who depicts with unprecedented sensitivity the darker side of rural life, often raging against women.
- ‘La Xava’ (1905), by Juli Vallmitjana. Rescued from oblivion not long ago, the writer Juli Vallmitjana (1873-1937) portrayed the poorest environments of Barcelona at the beginning of the 20th century. In ‘La Xava’, as he does in ‘La ciutat vella’, he shows the street talk in the neighbourhoods of Montjuic, the stark struggle for survival and how Barcelona’s gentlemen, avaricious and narcissistic, used the blackest poverty to build their golden bohemia. His works, full of small stories, also narrate the great collective events, and the struggle between the proletarian classes and the bourgeoisie.
- ‘L’auca del senyor Esteve’ (1907), by Santiago Rusiñol. This work by Rusiñol (1861-1931), also from the early 20th century, narrates the confrontation and reconciliation between Mr. Esteve, an archetypal merchant of the petty bourgeoisie, and his son, a modernist artist who does not want to inherit the family business. The play follows the life of the protagonist, a prudent, practical man who, even as a child, wants to devote himself exclusively to his haberdashery, La Puntual, and who marries Tomaseta, a woman of the same disposition. In the background, Barcelona is seen as a city in the process of modernisation.
- ‘Vida Privada’ (1932), by Josep Maria de Sagarra. After years of prosperity of the Catalan bourgeoisie at the expense of the exploitation of the poorest, it is Sagarra (1894-1961) who narrates its decline like no one else do. He does so through the history of the Lloberola family, who see their entire patrimony vanish in the hands of the youngest members of the household. Sagarra ironically portrays the process of social and moral degradation of the family and paints a portrait of high and low society, through meetings in salons, boardrooms and brothels. Other works by Sagarra, such as ‘La rambla de les floristes’ (1935), ‘El cafè de la Marina’ (1933) and ‘L’hostal de la Glòria’ (1931), should also be mentioned, as they offer a kaleidoscopic portrait of the miserly and miserable people who populate the history of Catalonia in the 20th century.
- ‘El carrer de les Camèlies’ (1966), by Mercè Rodoreda. It is Rodorera (1908-1983) who portrays the years of the Civil War and the post-war period in ‘El carrer de les Camèlies’. The novel follows the life of Cecília, a survivor, who begins her miserable life on La Rambla. Later, she lives in a flat in the Eixample and ends up selling herself in shacks in Carmel. Rodoreda portrays a society consumed by the greed of the previous years, a journey into darkness. This grey sadness will be a constant in Rodoreda’s works, as for example in ‘Aloma’ (1936) or in the famous ‘La plaça del diamant’ (1962). She would also give an account of the past in the novel ‘Mirall trencat’ (1974), a portrait of bourgeois decadence in the Sagarra’ style.
- ‘Feliçment soc una dona’ (1969), by Maria Aurèlia de Capmany. As Rodoreda does in ‘El carrer de les Camèlies’, Capmany (1918-1991) portrays the society of her time through the character of Carola, who has lived intensely and has fallen victim to the chiaroscuro of a greedy city that grows in a disorderly fashion. The protagonist begins, at first, a journey in search of happiness, but takes the wrong path that will cause her to lose all her innocence. Capmany also portrays this city overcome by the greedy years in ‘Betúlia’ (1974).
- ‘Benzina’ (1983), by Quim Monzó. The greedy effervescence of the happy eighties of the 20th century is portrayed by Monzó through the story of Heribert. The character, who has triumphed in the art world after an arduous conquest, lives a condescending and boring life until he realises that his lovers are cheating on him with extravagant men.
- ‘El cau del conill’ (2011), by Cristian Segura. Now in the 21st century, Segura portrays the placid existence of businessman Amadeu Conill: tennis matches at midday, demonstrations of popularity in the Barça stands, vermouth in Turó Park and shopping afternoons in the Illa Diagonal. ‘El cau del conill’ tells the story of the tribulations of a prominent member of the Barcelona bourgeoisie in free fall and the generational relay of a social class in a happily achieved decadence in the midst of a globalised world.
- ‘Tsunami’ (2020), by Albert Pijuan. Finally, we meet Pijuan’s three cousins, sons of the three brothers who founded a tourist company with hotels all over the world. At the age of eighteen, they enjoy themselves like never before and like no one else during the inauguration of their new hotel in Sri Lanka: parties, alcohol, scuba diving, exotic landscapes, Asian luxury… But things will change drastically when a tsunami alert spreads to all corners of the Indian Ocean.
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Llistat boníssim i alguns llegits a l’escola. Altres els poso a la.llista👍
Moltes gràcies per les teves paraules i pel teu comentari, Laura.
Tota una mostrade la societat catalana a través del temps,n’hi haque ni els coneixeia i altres que quasi ni recordo gràcies
Doncs sí, és un molt bon recull de literatura catalana. Moltes gràcies pel teu comentari, Alícia!!!
Gran recull literari. Molt interessant. Anima a refer lectures. Gràcies.
Gràcies a tu Pere per ser-hi. Seguim aprenent!
Brutal TerraBaixa, i si a més de llegir-la poguéssiu gaudir de l’obra de teatre….un drama del més intensos que hagueu sentit mai. -Manelic pobre Manelic
Doncs, sí. És ben bé una obra de referència de la nostra literatura.
Bon repàs literari! 😉
Gràcies, Miquel. Seguim endavant!
Aquest article m’ha animat a llegir alguns títols que ni tan sols coneixia
Perfecte Francesc. Seguim aprenent! Ens veiem per la Plaça
Bon article , e descobert llibres que desconeixia 👏
Genial Manel! Seguim endavant. Ens veiem per la Plaça
Interessant per esbrinar d’on ve la mala fama quan al mateix temps ens considerem solidaris i altruistes (milers d’associacions sense ànim de lucre)
Gràcies, Mercè pel teu comentari. Ens veiem per la Plaça
Les dues de Narcís Oller (L’Escanyapobres i La Febre d’Or) molt recomanables!
Moltes gràcies pel teu comentari, Víctor!
Moltes gràcies, Josep!
Moltes gràcies, Joan!