Dimecres 12.02.2014 10:19
Autor/s: CNA / Emma Garzi
‘Confessions’ has been praised as “a novel of novels” and a masterpiece of European literature by many literary critics.
Jaume Cabré’s latest novel, 'Jo confesso' (‘Confessions’), which was awarded the Courrier International Prize last week for ‘Best foreign novel’, will be translated into 20 languages over the coming months. The work has already been published in 9 languages and will be available in English in 2015. Jaume Cabré, who was born in Barcelona in 1947, has been praised internationally for his novels which delve into the human condition and reflect on mankind’s propensity towards evil. He is probably the living Catalan writer with the greatest international projection.
In 'Jo confesso', a multi-layered novel starting in Barcelona in the 1950s, the main character, Adrià Ardèvol, investigates his family’s past and wealth, going all the way back to the very origins of evil, to the Spanish Inquisition, Franco dictatorship and Nazi Germany’s extermination camps. The intricate novel portrays an earthly hell, stressing the inhumanity of mankind and covering the last 7 centuries of Western Europe’s history. Cabré’s contribution to the projection of Catalan culture abroad will be acknowledged on Tuesday evening when the writer will be awarded the ‘Premi Ciutat de Barcelona a la Projecció Internacional’ given by the Catalan capital’s City Council. ‘Confessions’ has been praised as “a novel of novels” and a masterpiece of European literature by many literary critics.
Following the announcement that his latest novel would be translated into 20 languages, notably English, Cabré explained that appealing to North-America still remained very difficult, but that Latin America readers, in contrast, were increasingly interested in Catalan literature.
Jaume Cabré, who was born in Barcelona in 1947, is one of the most emblematic contemporary Catalan novelists. After many years of teaching at the University of Lleida (western Catalonia) and writing scripts for Catalan television, he became a widely-recognised writer in middle age. He published his first novel at the end of the 1970s which heralded his later works, usually delving into the human condition, power, man’s tendencies towards evil and the ephemeral relief art can provide.
The first of his novels which achieved great literary recognition was published quite some time later, in 1991: the work, entitled Senyoria (‘Your honour’, though it has not been translated into English yet), explored judicial corruption in 18th century Barcelona. In L'ombra de l'eunuc (1996) (‘The eunuc’s shadow’)The writer once again reflected on the past, focusing this time around the last years of Franco’s regime and the Transition from dictatorship to democracy. Les veus del Pamano (2004) (‘Voices from the River’) spanned a longer period of time. Starting in a little village in the Catalan Pyrenees in the 1940s, the story continues into the present day, addressing issues such as the obligation of remembrance or the impossibility to forgive.
'Jo confesso' questions faith in human nature
His latest novel, Jo confesso (‘Confessions’) was published in Catalan in 2011. In this complex, multi-layered novel starting in Barcelona in the 1950s, the main character, Adrià Ardèvol, investigates his family’s past and wealth, going all the way back to the very origins of evil. In this intricate work, where new times and new characters are constantly introduced, faith in human nature is brutally questioned. Cabré jumps from the Spanish Inquisition to Franco's dictatorship or to Nazi Germany’s extermination camps, portraying the last 7 centuries years of Western Europe’s history. The title itself, clearly linked to Zola’s famous ‘J’accuse’, as explained by Cabré, relates to the evil mankind is capable of: according to the Catalan writer, it has a double meaning: referring both to “confessing in terms of religious sacrament” and to “confessing a crime to the police or one’s guilt to someone else”.
The book has received great reviews from literary critics based in Spain, France, Germany and the UK. Some of them have referred to ‘Confessions’ as “the central novel” of Catalan contemporary literature. It has also been praised as “a novel of novels” and a masterpiece of European literature.
Jaume Cabré was interviewed by VilaWeb Global on #CatalanTalk on Twitter on February 18th.