Pedrolo, Manuel de

Pedrolo, Manuel de
b. 1918, L'Aranyó (Segarra); d. 1990, Barcelona
   Writer
   A prolific writer of novels, plays, short stories, press articles and poetry, Pedrolo was one of the few authors to write exclusively in Catalan throughout the Franco regime. He never compromised his principles, preferring to reach a limited audience in Catalan rather than abandon his native tongue in order to gain wider recognition. Politically, Pedrolo despised the Franco regime and all it stood for: he was a high-profile advocate of Catalan independence, and was especially prominent in the debates on autonomy which took place between 1975 and 1979, writing numerous articles on the subject which were published in the Catalan newspaper Avui. This does not mean that Pedrolo's fiction was entirely conditioned by political considerations: on the contrary, aesthetic criteria were high on his agenda, and he wrote many of his works in innovative or experimental styles which were inspired by diverse influences from American and European literatures.
   Critical responses to Pedrolo's writing have always been varied, and many of his works have never been closely appraised, which is not surpris-ing given his prolific production. Some publishers refused his work because of doubts about its quality. Readers also varied in their response to him, some becoming avid fans, others remaining indifferent. His science-fiction novel Mecanoscrit del segon origen (Typescript of the Second Origin) (1974) is one of the bestselling Catalan novels of all time. The Catalan critic Jordi Arbonès distinguishes three phases of Pedrolo's novelistic development: 1949–56-experimentation with narrative forms and a preoccupation with universal themes such as sex, death, freedom and identity; 1956–71-socio-political themes; and 1971 until his death— concentration on the technical possibilities of the novel as a means of expression (Arbonès, 1980: 28–31). The distinction is not entirely clear-cut, for sociopolitical themes are always present in Pedrolo's fiction, even if they are subordinate to technical experimentation. As far as other genres are concerned, Pedrolo wrote many plays which have been identified with the European "Theatre of the Absurd", and would perhaps have enjoyed widespread European recognition if they had not been written in Catalan.
   Ironically, in the more conservative climate of the 1980s, Pedrolo's militant articles became an embarrassment to publications such as Avui which had once avidly accepted them. This, coupled with a long illness, increasingly unfavourable critical receptions of his last novels, and the dashing of his hopes for a fully independent Catalonia, meant that Pedrolo died somewhat disillusioned. Since his death there has been renewed interest in his work, with Catalan critics seeking to fill the gaps in their appraisal of him and of his contribution to Catalan literature.
   Further reading
   - Arbonès, J. (1980) Pedrolo contra els límits, Barcelona: Aymà (a thorough examination of Pedrolo's novels to 1980).
   - García, X. (ed.) (1992) Rellegir Pedrolo, Barcelona: Edicions 62 (interesting collection of articles: contains a comprehensive bibliography of works both by and concerning Pedrolo).
   KATHRYN CRAMERI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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