Barings // Bearings: An Anthology of Women’s Writing in Catalan

Meg Berkobien & María Cristina Hall ::

Over forty years ago, in the midst of the democratic transition following the death of dictator Francisco Franco, author and activist Montserrat Roig contemplated her duties as an “ésser civic” in a moment of intense cultural and political change:

Escriure en català és una afirmació de supervivència, i no solament literària. Ganes “d’existir” privadament i col·lectivament […] Si tot va bé, escriure en català ja no serà un acte de “salvació” sinó un acte natural, un acte intern i privat que dóna coherència als sentiments i a les frustracions personals.

[To write in Catalan is an affirmation of survival—and not just in literature. A will “to exist” privately and collectively [ . . . ] If everything works out, writing in Catalan will no longer constitute an act of “salvation,” but a natural endeavor, an internal and private act that makes sense of our feelings and personal frustrations.]

For years, communicating in Catalan was an act of witnessing—of lending testimony to an ever-precarious past and present. While this understanding of Catalan as resistance is necessary, Roig contends that mere survival has never—will never—be enough. Instead, a language of the living should reflect the feeling of its people. And perhaps it’s no surprise that this kind of writing is typically coded as feminine.

Read the full text here.

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