Sales in Priorat

July 18, 2013 § Leave a comment


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.



Spanish Civil War on the screen: a study

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

It has been nice to participate in the book La Guerra Civil televisada. La representación de la contienda en la ficción y el documental españoles, edited by Sira Hernández. It is a compilation of seven chapters on different approaches on how the Spanish Civil War has been narrated through television in Spain.

Sira Hernández offers an insightful study on how TVE (Spanish public television) has reported on the war through documentaries during the last years of the dictatorship and the transition to democracy. The representation of the war was, in her words, “to the service of the legitimation of the respective political systems in Spain in each historical period” (p. 50). The last tense of this text is highly illustrative: “The war was remembered to definitively overcome it and embracing the new brand democracy with hope”.

Also very relevant is the chapter from José Carlos Rueda Laffond and Elena Galán, about how TV fiction has represented the war during the last ten years (2001-2012). The authors offer a rather exhaustive relation of the historical programmes in public and private channels, along with some reflexions on series like Cuéntame cómo pasó, or Amar en tiempos revueltos. Finally, one of my favorite texts is the one from Francisca López on the fictional production of TVE during the 80’s, and more specifically studying the productions La plaza del diamante, Lorca, la muerte de un poeta.

More: have a look to the content and the introduction.

Memory in conflict

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

The field of the mediatisation of memory is of great interest and impact in contemporary configurations of popular history.  In recent times, I have been researching on how Spanish Civil War has been accounted in several documentaries produced by the Catalan public television TVC. In brief, an article on this will appear in a book on the televisualization of the war in the Spanish context, edited by Sira Hernández (Universidad de Navarra). My vision is that the Catalan TV produced a set of documentaries in the 2000’s that raised a set of topics silenced since that moment. Some of these serious facts were the stolen children of Francoism or the desaparecidos during the war/post-war in Spain. Far from presenting a Manichean story, and consistently grounded in journalistic and historical research, some of the TVC documentaries –worthy to mention those by Montse Armengou and Ricard Belis– are an unquestionable heritage of contemporary journalism in Europe. During the next months I will go on investigating in this matter, under the umbrella of the research project I am leading, as the memory has been a great battlefield for the political conflict in Spain during the last decades.

Adapting Historical Narratives: a fruitful academic event

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Nice conference at De Monfort University (Leicester, UK) titled Adapting Historical Narratives this week. Organized at the Centre for Adaptations of the Faculty of Humanities, the conference was a fruitful chance to meet interesting people working on a wide range of topics in the field of adaptation. In my panel, Julia Nitz (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg) presented a paper entitled ‘Photographic Narratives in Ken Burns’ The Civil War”, which offered an insightful analysis of how Burns used photography in his documentary on the American Civil War. I also had the chance to know the work of two other young and promising researchers from Belgium. They contributed in the panel I chaired on Nation, Conflict and History. They are Christophe Collard (Free University of Brussels) and Gertjan Willems (Ghent University). Collard offered a broad analysis of the broadcast of the ‘fake’ current affairs program ‘Bye, Bye, Belgium’, linking it to the paradigm of ‘remediation’. He studied the characteristics of the program and its response by the audience. Willems studied the film ‘The Lion of Flanders’ (Claus), based in the novel of the romantic Flemish writer H. Conscience. His presentation offered not only deep analysis but also we knew about some  curiosities, like the fact that the French actors appearing in the film were all recruited among Dutch. The conference, organized by Deborah Cartmell and Claire Monk, was also a chance to know the journal ‘Adaptations’. In the conference, I presented my work on the narratives on Catalan TV about the Spanish Civil War. More here.

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