The bitter land

February 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Dissolution by indefinition is not an impossible final for peoples” (Francesc Mira, Sobre la nació dels valencians)

I have just finished the book written by the journalist Vicent Sanchis (Valencia, 1961), Valencians, encara. Cinquanta anys després de Joan Fuster (Valencians, still. Fifty years after Joan Fuster). The text, awarded with the XXXIII Prize Carles Rahola, is quite a brilliant contribution to the debate on the national identity in Valencia. Since the book from Joan Francesc Mira, Sobre la nació dels valencians, I haven’t enjoyed such an appropriate diagnosis on the topic; revisited each five or ten years by the local intellectuals.

The main objective of the text is to aim the validity of the thesis from Joan Fuster on the Catalan nature of the Valencian nationality. I agree with the author that no other essayist has overcame, in terms of quality, audacity and influence, the writer born in Sueca. Sanchis acknowledges that many of the ideas contained in Nosaltres els valencians should be reviewed but the Valencian Country is today a “bitter land”, in the sense that several historical opportunities has been lost in order “to be”. And for this, a country needs politics. Otherwise, as Sanchis states (our translation),

Valencian is, partly, a “politics-less country”. Not in the sense of having its own institutions –as, more or less efficient, it has-, nor regarding world-comparable political leaders, but in the ambitious meaning that Fuster wanted to express when he formulated this complaint (p. 225).

Sanchis is also right when he states that the Valencian case has been closed, “from the very centre of all Peninsular political powers, as a solved matter, liquidated”. Despite the pessimistic tone of these affirmations, the author recognizes some revival of the political forces backing a particular national process. The whole book is a very personal but comprehensible account of how Catalan identity has suffered a regression in Valencia, since the XV century to current days, and how Castilian rules, culture and logics have definitively colonized a country, my own, which one day was an international model to follow. The aspect that is perhaps more improvable is precisely the inflating importance given to the Fuster’s legacy, meanwhile some authors like Josep-Vicent Marqués are almost not mentioned. More analysis also deserves the role played by the media -and specially Canal 9, but also to local dailies-, in growing a Valencian identity.

This book is published in a crucial moment: I would say we are living a turn out in Valencia. Sanchis contribution adds to the recent books from Francesc Viadel (Valencianisme, l’aportació positiva), and Josep Vicent Boira (La Commonwealth catalanovalenciana and Valencia, la tormenta perfecta)… All these are must if someone aspires to understand the complexity of the Valencian case, as a particular society within Spain. Something is moving in this land, but to where?

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