Article published in:Aproximació a l'altre / An approach to the other: Biografies, semblances i retrats / Biographies, resemblances and portraits
Edited by Enric Balaguer, Maria Jesús Francés and Vicent Vidal
[IVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature 11] 2015
► pp. 83–90
Els Retrats literarisde Domènec Guansé
The present article defines the origin, the context, and the critical method of the portrait written by Domènec Guansé wrote between the 1930s, the exile in Chile (1940–1963) and his return. His work is focused on Retrats literaris and Abans d’Ara (second version of the former), two works of reference of the Catalan literature regarding the portrait genre. The Retrats literaris – which take inspiration from Sainte Beuve’s Portraits littéraires – are the heart of Domènec Guansé’s critical work and the most accurate expression of his nature. Before and after the Retrats literaris, he constantly worked on the testimonial biography of the writers of his generation and those who developed their work between the 19th and 20th centuries. And during the fifteen years that he lived after the exile, he used is literature to reflect the creative temper of the writers he was interested in. In fact, his Retrats literaris could have offered multiple different possibilities – all of them interesting – if we take into account the multiple essays product of Guanse’s activity as a biographer and critic. Undoubtedly, Retrats literaris is the work which gives maximum acknowledgment to Guansé as an essay writer, due to the fact that its studies immortalize, with the unique strength of the creative memory, the members of different generations of literary people who met during the 1920s and 1930s. And, above all, the book, as a collection of Catalan writers, is a portrait of an extinct world which the author has turned into a legend for life: those years of cultural and political fulfillment developed thanks to the republic. During the exile years in France (1939) and in Chile (1940–1963), Guansé worked to achieve the survival of the Catalan culture by reconstructing the characters and the facts. Retrats literaris is the study which summarizes better this will of cultural and political projection. This study was published in 1947 in Mexico and, in a second modified edition, in 1966 in Barcelona, even if it appeared with the title Abans d’ara (Before now), due to the prohibition that the censorship imposed to the first planned title for this second edition: Abans del naufragi (Before the collapse). Retrats literaris, which have become the book of reference when speaking about Guansé, are the result of a continuous work of attention to the Catalan writers, work that built the plot of his vast critical work. Guansé’s bibliographical work started with Germanor, from 1940, specially with the series “Els meus contemporanis. Retrats d’escriptors catalans” (My contemporaries. Catalan writers’ portraits) (1943–1944), immediate precedent of the book.
Published online: 02 December 2015