Sales in Priorat

July 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Catalonia celebrated last year the ‘Year Sales-Calders-Tísner 1912-2012′. A full calendar of activities and cultural events remembered the legacy of three great writers; all them united by the fighting for the democracy and the liberties of Catalonia and against fascism. All three wrote prominent texts, being Calders a master of the short story, Tísner excelling in journalism and chronicles, and Sales… well… Sales wrote the best novel about the Spanish Civil War ever published. He indeed wrote other novels and short stories, but his legacy and the text to which he dedicated almost his entire life was Incerta glòria, a book translated into English in 2002 (Uncertain glory, trans. by David H. Rosenthal).

Sales is one writer who I consider has been unaware by the cultural world (he is very unknown, even in Catalonia). Only a brief note in the Spanish Wikipedia is dedicated to Sales, and the entry for Incerta glòria is an undeveloped text just for the Catalan version. Little information is found on-line in English about the author who wrote one of the best European novels of the twentieth century, and also one of the best works against war and violence.

I read it years ago and I was immediately caught by the epistolary structure, the strength of the language and the thoughts of the main characters, the philosophy about life and the nonsense of war, and the reflexion that the novel generated in me as reader about the evil and the absurdity, the loneliness and the complexity of the human being. Incerta glòria (1956) is in one sense a book comparable in quality to Celine’s Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932) or Mailer’s The naked and the dead (1948), all texts being masterpieces refusing war and violence. All them are novels grounded on writers’ experience as soldiers and dig in the obscure parts of the human mind from with different techniques and approaches.

Last Saturday I was visiting Siurana, a place where I go from time to time, as is one of the most beautiful sites in my nearby. Sales lived here for years and he was buried (1983) in the tiny cemetery behind a Romanic Church from which you have spectacular views to the reservoir of Siurana River. I was remembering the characters of the novel and some of the best passages and taking some pictures. You can smell there the spirit of Sales, climbing the hilly land of Priorat among vineyards. A pleasant sensation now frozen in this post.

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