Mercè Rodoreda i Gurguí

Catalonia's Most Influential Contemporary Novelist

Considered the most influential contemporary writer in the Catalan language, Mercè Rodoreda's best-known work is La plaça del Diamant translated into English as The Time Of The Doves, The Pigeon Girl and In Diamond Square by three separate translators.

Born in Barcelona on October 10th 1908, Mercè Rodoreda i Gurguí was a prolific novelist, poet and playwright and one many literary awards throughout her life, including the Premi d'Honor de les Lletres Catalanes in 1980, shortly before her death in 1983.

"I write because I like to write. If it didn't appear exaggerated I'd say that I write what I like myself. If other people like what I write at the same time, so much the better. Perhaps I write to to define myself. To feel that I am ... And I'll finish. I have spoken of myself and of essential things in my life, with a certain lack of measure. And excess has always frightened me."

Mercè Rodoreda in the prologue of Mirall Trencat (Broken Mirror)

The picture below of the Grafitti-Mural dedicated to Rodoreda in the neighbourhood of Les Corts gives an idea of her importance in popular Catalan culture.


A Short Biography of Mercè Rodoreda

Mercè Rodoreda i Gurguí was born in the then village of Sant Gervasi de Cassoles in what is now the District of Sant Gervasi-Sarrià in Barcelona on October 10th 1908.

Although her family were interested in theatre and literature, the young Mercè only received two years of primary schooling and on her 20th birthday she married her cousin, Joan Gurgui.

After the birth of the couple's only son in 1929, Mercè Rodoreda began to take a more serious interest in writing but it wasn't until the advent of the Second Republic in 1931 that she, and many women like her, had full access to adult education.

She studied under the linguist and esperantist Delfí Dalmau, who encouraged her to show writing to others, and in 1932 her first novel, Sóc una dona honrada?, was published by the Catalònia publishing house.

Work as a journalist and the publication of a succession of novels continued until Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War in 1939, when she fled into exile and spent most of the war in Limoges.

Following the allied victory, Rodoreda moved to Paris and then in 1954 to Geneva.

Throughout this period, she continued writing and publishing and was considered one of the most important Catalan intellectuals of her day but it was it from 1960, with the publication of La plaça del Diamant, that she entered her most creative period.

El carrer de les Camèlies was published in 1966 and Mirall trencat in 1967 and in 1970, when La plaça del Diamant began to be translated into other languages, Mercè Rodoreda started receiving international acclaim.

Her mother and husband having died in the 1960s, in 1972 Rodoreda returned to Catalonia to live in the house of her friend Carme Manrubia in Romanyà de la Selva near Platja d'Aro.

It was in Romanyà that Rodoreda was to spend the last years of here life. She continued writing and received the Premi d'Honor de les Lletres Catalanes in 1980.

Mercè Rodoreda died on April 13th 1983 and after having been given full honours by the Department of Culture of the Generalitat of Catalonia, she was buried in the cemetery in Romanyà de la Selva.

This quote from La mort i la primavera (Death and Spring) sums it up well.

"La mort va fugir pel cor i quan ja no vaig tenir la mort a dintre em vaig morir."

"Death fled from my heart and when I no longer had death within I died."

Selected Works in English

Aloma (1938)

Vint-i-dos contes (1958)

La plaça del diamant (The Time of the Doves) (1962)

El carrer de les camèlies (1966)

Jardí vora el mar (1967)

Mirall Trencat (1974)

Semblava de seda i altres contes (1978)

Quanta, quanta guerra... (1980)

La mort i la primavera, ("Death in Spring"; Rochester, NY: Open Letter Books 2009).

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