Joan Maragall

The Leading Poet of Literary Catalan Modernism

Born in Barcelona on October 10th 1860, Joan Maragall i Gorina was a poet, essayist, journalist, translator and lawyer, is one of the most important and influential figures of Catalonia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Since his death on December 20th 1911, literary history has placed Joan Maragall as one of the great Catalan poets of all time, whilst his humanistic legacy is part of contemporary Catalonia's collective cultural heritage.

Maragall's highly evocative poetry went through decadentist and vitalist periods and centres around the themes of life and nature with a strong influence of German-language authors such as Nietzsche, Novalis and Goethe, all of whom he translated into Catalan. 

On an intellectual level, he is best known for his 'theory of the living word', or teoria de la paraula viva, which advocated Nietzschean vitalism and spontaneous or even imperfect writing over colder more considered poetry.

In 1904 he won all three prizes awarded by the Jocs Florals in Barcelona, and was proclaimed Mestre en Gai Saber, an achievement that places him amongst the greats of Catalan literature.

Joan Maragall is also responsible for some of the most precise expressions of the differences between Spain and Catalonia as in Oda a Espanya and El Cant de la Senyera, for example.


A Brief Biography of Joan Maragall

Joan Maragall was born in the neighbourhood of Santa Caterina on October 10th 1860 into a well-to-do Barcelona family. His father was a textile manufacturer and after some years of schooling, at the age of 15, the young Joan began working for the family business.

The work, however, made him extremely unhappy and in 1879, he began to study Law ay the University of Barcelona, where he soon joined a group of young intellectuals known as the circle and began taking an interest in literature and writing poetry.

Following his graduation in 1884, Maragall began working in a law firm, where he apparently had little to do and was able to spend his free time at the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Ateneu Barcelonès, where he became friends with literary figures, such as Josep Yxart, Joan Sardà and Narcís Oller.

In the summer of 1888, he met 16-year-old Clara Noble Malvido, the daughter of an English businessman and an Andalusian lady, and the couple would end up marrying three years later and having a total of 13 children.

By this time, Joan Maragall was working at El Diari de Barcelona and this was when his literary career began to take off as in 1893, he was made a member of the Acadèmia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona and in 1895, he became secretary of the Ateneu Barcelonès.

In 1899, Enric Prat de la Riba refounded La Veu de Catalunya as the newspaper of the Lliga Regionalista and offered the editor's job to Joan Maragall, who turned it down.

In 1902, Maragall was arrested and tried for publishing the article "La Patria Nueva", which along with the publication of "San Jorge, patrón de Cataluña", "Sentimiento catalanista" and "El trágico conflicto" brought him into conflict with the editor of El Diari de Barcelona and he ended up resigning.

The same year, he was elected president of the Ateneu Barcelonès and between 1904 and 1906 published regularly in the magazine Ilustració Catalana.

A few months before his death in 1911, he became a founding member of the Secció Filològica of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans.

Joan Maragall died on December 20th 1911 aged only 51 as the result of a disease called Brucellosis, also known as Malta Fever.

He is buried in the cemetery of Sant Gervasi and his manuscripts are preserved in the Joan Maragall Archive of Barcelona.

Collected Works

Poesies (1895)

Visions i Cants (1900)

Les Disperses (1904)

Enllà (1906)

Seqüències (1911)

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