Roig, Montserrat

Roig, Montserrat
b. 1946, Barcelona; d. 1991, Barcelona
   Writer
   Montserrat Roig grew up in the elegant middleclass area of Barcelona known as the Eixample about whose inhabitants she wrote so knowledgeably. After attending the Adrià Gual School for Dramatic Arts she studied at the University of Barcelona, involving herself in student politics. Most of her life was spent in that city, except for periods in Britain teaching at the universities of Bristol and Strathclyde and extended visits to the Soviet Union in 1980 to research for a book on the siege of Leningrad in WWII, and to Arizona, where she was a visiting professor, in 1990. Her historical interests are evident in the painstakingly researched survey on the fate of Catalan prisoners in Nazi Germany, Els catalans als camps nazis (Catalans in Nazi Concentration Camps) (1977). In addition to writing for a wide variety of Spanish- and Catalan-language newspapers and magazines Roig also worked on Catalan television, mainly as an interviewer. By her midtwenties she had secured a number of literary prizes, including one for a collection of short stories, Malta roba i poc sabó (Many Clothes and Little Soap) (1971), that anticipate the themes, settings and characters of her five novels. The first three, written in the 1970s, could be regarded as a feminist trilogy. In Ramona, adéu (Farewell, Ramona) (1972) the experiences of women from three generations are juxtaposed to highlight the limitations of their lives. It is the conflict between generations, principally between the pseudonarrator Natàlia and her father Joan, that comes to the fore in the second novel, El temps de les cireres (Cherry Time) (1977). Here, too, Roig relates the repression of women by men to a political dimension, conspicuously to Franco's attack on Catalan culture. In the next novel, L'hora violeta (The Violet Hour) (1980), seemingly structured as an act of recovering "lost" texts, the reader is confronted by an array of texts—diaries, notes, jottings, letters—that are symptomatic of the marginal nature of women's writing. The final two novels, written in the 1980s, strike out in new directions. L"òpera quotidiana (The Daily Opera) (1982) contains a tale of desperate sexuality and jealousy. The cowardice of Horaci Duc, a Catalan nationalist, is highlighted by the bravery of his wife Maria, an immigrant from Andalusia. The final novel, La veu melodiosa (The Melodious Voice) emerges as a positive response to L"òpera quotidiana, embodying discovery and redemption: the protagonist Espardenya, rejected by his peers because of his grotesque appearance, discovers a social role while a student activist in the demonstrations of the 1960s. Ultimately he acquires not only an identity but a voice, for he has become a poet—an apt swansong for a writer obsessed by the injustices of thwarted aspirations and unheeded voices.
   Further reading
   - Bellver, C.G. (1991) "Montserrat Roig and the Creation of a Gynocentric Reality", in J.L. Brown (ed.) Women Writers of Contemporary Spain: Exiles in the Homeland, London and Toronto: Associated University Presses (a lucid account of the feminist issues in the novels).
   - Davies, C. (1994) Contemporary Feminist Fiction in Spain: the Work of Montserrat Roig and Rosa Montero, Oxford: New Directions in Critical Writing (an excellent survey of the themes and narrative processes of the novels).
   D. GARETH WALTERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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