Catalan culture

Catalan culture
   The post-Civil War culture of the països catalans (Catalan lands, including Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and parts of Alicante) has been deeply marked by developments in the rest of Spain. By contrast with the 1930s, when Catalan social, political and cultural institutions were highly developed, the Catalan language was savagely repressed during the early part of the Franco regime in the 1940s, many Catalans being fined for using it in public or on the telephone. No public performance of a play in Catalan was allowed on the professional stage in Barcelona until 1946, and even after this Catalan playwrights and other writers experienced difficulty in having their work performed or published. The activity of independent theatre companies such as the Agrupació Dramàtica de Barcelona (founded in 1955) and the Escola d'Art Dramatic Adrià Gual (founded in 1960 by Maria Aurèlia Capmany and Ricard Salvat) was both difficult and courageous. The abnormality of this situation did not, however, totally preclude activity or development. Nor was Catalonia cut off from cultural developments in the rest of the western world, once the isolationism of Spain during the immediate post-Civil War years had passed. Major changes nevertheless had to wait for the cultural and sociopolitical upheavals of the 1960s. It was also at this time that a generation gap opened up between writers and artists who were born before the Civil War and those who had not experienced the conflict. Among the former group were figures who remained in Catalonia (J.V.Foix, Salvador Espriu, Joan Brossa and Antoni Tàpies, for example), and others who worked in exile, such as Pau Casals and Pere Calders. Among the writers of the post-Civil War generation who came to prominence in the 1960s and the 1970s were the poets Narcís Comadira, Pere Gimferrer (the best-known poet of his generation) and Francesc Parcerisas. A particular characteristic of Catalan poetry of the late 1960s and the early 1970s—evident in all three poets— was its rejection of the realist ethos propounded by Josep Maria Castellet and Joaquim Molas in the early 1960s.
   The two most important dramatists writing in Catalan in the 1960s and the 1970s were Josep Maria Benet i Jornet and the Valencian Rodolf Sirera. They were both influenced by social realism and Brechtianism in their early plays, but subsequently absorbed the post-naturalist and post-modernist aesthetics of the next generation of Catalan playwrights, of whom Sergi Belbel is the prime example.
   In fiction, Manuel de Pedrolo, although born in 1918, wrote his main works from the 1950s to the 1970s. The best-known fiction writers since the 1960s are Terenci Moix, Montserrat Roig and Quim Monzó. All of these have, in their different ways, questioned the values of bourgeois culture. Moix and Monzó have incorporated elements of popular culture into their writing, while Roig has concentrated on the role of women in modern society.
   Catalan music and spectacle have seen many changes since the 1960s, particularly the effects of the revolution in western pop music. The folk and protest singers of the 1960s were popular in Catalonia, especially Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. They found echoes in the Nova Cançó movement, in which singer-songwriters like Raimon and Lluís Llach (as well as the people who attended their concerts) risked beatings and imprisonment by Franco's police. Renewed interest in popular and folk music led to a rediscovery of Catalan popular music. Maria del Mar Bonet adapted and sang Mallorcan folk songs. There was an upsurge of interest in the traditional dance, the sardana, and in the havanera, or sea song. New songs were composed which combined traditional elements with aspects of the folk or rock culture.
   The recovery of popular culture in late Francoism and during the transition to democracy is reflected in a growth of interest in festivals. Such festivals, as well as mime and dance, were given an avant-garde slant by such performance groups as Els Joglars and Els Comediants. The anti- Franco connotations of the recovery of popular culture in Catalonia were given an extra impetus by the language question and by what the Catalans call the fet diferencial, or sense of distinctive Catalanness. These observations apply equally to the enormously popular Barcelona FC, particularly in their matches with arch-rivals Real Madrid.
   An important ingredient of the post-Franco period has been the advent of Catalan television. Although TV3 has done much for Catalan language and culture, there is a good deal of doubt amongst Catalans about what the future holds. There is a widespread fear that the growth of private television channels is not only lowering quality and leading to more Americanized programmes, but also that the Catalan language itself will suffer because the overwhelming majority of these programmes are transmitted in Spanish.
   One other vitally important aspect of Catalan culture is the literature written in Spanish. In drama, both José M.Rodríguez Méndez and José Sanchis Sinisterra are Catalans writing in Spanish, but it is in fiction that Spanish-writing Catalans have made most impression. Carmen Laforet's Nada is a well-known account of growing up in post-Civil War Barcelona. Novels by Juan Marsé and Juan Goytisolo are critical of the Catalan-speaking bourgeoisie, while Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's detective fiction presents a highly original picture of modern-day Barcelona seen through the eyes of his postmodern sleuth Pepe Carvalho. Visions of Barcelona also characterize the novels of Eduardo Mendoza.
   See also: Caballé, Montserrat; Carreras, José; Catalan television; Dalí, Salvador; Fuster, Joan; language and national identity; Liceu Theatre; linguistic policy and legislation; normalization; Pàmies, Teresa; regional nationalism; Riera, Carme
   Further reading
   - Boyd, A. (1988) The Essence of Catalonia: Barcelona and its Region, London: André Deutsch (a guide for the discerning tourist).
   - Guitart i Agell, J. (1990) Cultura a Catalunya anys noranta, Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
   - Papo, A. (1985) El jazz a Catalunya, Barcelona: Edicions 62.
   - Termes, J. (ed.) (1986) Catalanisme: història, política i cultura, Barcelona: Avenç (a look at Catalanism from various angles).
   - Recolons, L. et al. (1989) Catalunya 77-88: Societat, economia, política, cultura, Barcelona: Fundació Jaume Bofill (the most complete overview of recent Catalan culture, society and politics).
   DAVID GEORGE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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