Rodoreda, Mercè 1908(?)–1983
Rodoreda, Mercè 1908(?)–1983
PERSONAL: Born October 10, 1908 (some sources say 1909), in Barcelona, Spain; died April 22, 1983, in Barcelona (some sources say Girona), Spain.
CAREER: Writer. Worked in Commissariat of the Generalitat (autonomous government) of Catalonia and Institute of Catalan Letters; worked as a translator in Geneva, Switzerland, c. 1940s.
MEMBER: Associació d'Escriptors en Llengua Catalana.
AWARDS, HONORS: Creixelles prize, 1937, for Aloma; Victor Català prize, 1958, for Vinti-i-dos contes; Sant Jordi, Critics,' and Ramon Llull prizes, all for Camellia Street; award of honor in Catalan letters, 1980.
Vinti-i-dos contes (title means "Twenty-two Stories"), Editorial Selecta (Barcelona, Spain), 1958.
La plaça del diamant (novel; title means "The Time of the Doves"), Club Editor (Barcelona, Spain), 1962, translation by Eda O'Shiel published as The Pigeon Girl, Deutsch (London, England), 1964, translation by David H. Rosenthal published as The Time of the Doves, Taplinger (New York, NY), 1980.
El carrer de les camèlies (novel), Club Editor (Barcelona, Spain), 1966, translation by David H. Rosenthal published as Camellia Street, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 1993.
La meva Christina i altres contes (stories), Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1966, translation by David H. Rosenthal published as My Christina and Other Stories, Graywolf Press (Port Townsend, WA), 1984.
Jardí vora el mar (novel), Club Editor (Barcelona, Spain), 1967.
Aloma, [Spain], 1938, revised edition, 1969), reprinted, Al-borak (Madrid, Spain), 1971.
Mirall trencat (novel), Club Editor (Barcelona, Spain), 1974, translation and introduction by Josep Miquel Sobrer published as A Broken Mirror, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2006.
Jardin junto al mar (novel), Editorial Planeta (Barcelona, Spain), 1975.
Obres completes, Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1976.
Semblava de seda i altres contes, Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1978.
Tots els contes, Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1979.
Quanta, quanta guerra (novel; title means "So Much War"), Club Editor (Barcelona, Spain), 1980.
Viatges i flors (title means "Travels and Flowers"), Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1980.
Two Tales (includes "The Nursemaid" and "The Salamander"), illustrated by Antonio Frasconi, translated from the Catalan by David Rosenthal, Red Ozier (Port of New York, NY), 1983.
Una campaña de vidre: antologia de contes, Edicions 62 (Barcelona, Spain), 1984.
Parecía de seda, Edicions del Mall, 1985.
Cartes a l'Anna Murià , 1939–1956 (correspondence), introduction by Murià, La Sal (Barcelona, Spain), 1985.
La mort i la primavera, Club Editor (Barcelona, Spain), 1986.
Molins de rei a Mercè Rodoreda: i premi de narrativa "Mercè Rodoreda," Edicions del Mall, 1987.
Isabel i Maria, Eliseu Climent (Valencia, Spain), 1991.
El torrent des les flors, Eliseu Climent (Valencia, Spain), 1993.
Un café i altres narracions, Fundació Mercè Rodoreda (Barcelona, Spain), 1999.
El maniqui, Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), 1999.
Cuentos completes (short stories), prologue by Joquim Molas and Carm Arnau, bibliography by E. Miret i Raspall, Fundación Central Hispano (Madrid, Spain), 2002.
Agonia de llum, edited by Abraham Mohino i Balet, Angle Editorial (Barcelona, Spain), 2002.
Also author of Del que hom no pot fugir, 1934; Un día en la vida d'un home, 1934; and Crim, 1936.
Works have been translated in French, Spanish, and English.
SIDELIGHTS: For many years, Mercè Rodoreda was a writer without a voice. A native of Spain, she was raised speaking the Catalan language and began her career writing in that dialect. This changed with the onset of the Spanish Civil War. The defeat of the Spanish Republic by fascist revolutionaries and the takeover of Barcelona resulted in the suppression of all things Catalonian. At age twenty-eight—and already "considered one of the bright new voices of a flourishing Catalan literature," according to Gregory Rabassa in the New York Times Book Review—Rodoreda was forced to take refuge in France, only to endure that country's invasion by Nazi forces a few years later. Finally, with her exile to Geneva, Switzerland the author recovered her voice, resuming her career in 1959. She returned to her native Barcelona in 1979, following the death of Spanish dictator Generallismo Franco.
One of Rodoreda's most important early works was La Plaça del diamant. A first-person narrative, the book centers on Natàlia, a young girl who grows to uneasy adulthood in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. What sets this book apart from the typical coming-of-age tale, according to Hispania contributor Patricia Lunn, is that the author "controls the process of inference—and hence the reader's experience of the story—through the manipulation of the linguistic resources of the novel." Lunn noted that Rodoreda "does not write in a style that forces the reader to sympathize with the limitations of Natàlia's life; rather, she recreates these limitations linguistically and the reader instantiates and makes inferences from them in the act of reading. Thus, when Natàlia breaks free from these limitations, the reader is released as well."
Rodoreda became an active literary voice again in the 1960s, most notably with a novel and a collection of short stories. In the novel Camellia Street, the author uses one woman's story as a metaphor for the fall of Barcelona. Young Cecilia, abandoned as an infant, eventually walks out on the couple who took her in, perhaps because, "like Barcelona,… she is destined for instability," a Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked. Cecilia ends up in a shantytown, flitting from one man to another. Finally, she finds in an old acquaintance the man who will at last give her the love she has always sought.
No less a figure than Gabriel García Márquez cited Rodoreda as an influence, "and My Christina and Other Stories shows why," Rabassa wrote. "Her narrative style and tone fall well within the hazy bounds of what has come to be called, for better or for worse, 'magic realism,' popularly thought to be the province of Latin Americans." Indeed, surrealistic ideas permeate My Christina. In the title story Christina assumes the role of the whale that has swallowed the narrator; "when we realize the situation," Rabassa noted, "we have already accepted it, which is the hallmark of magic realism." In "The Salamander" a woman accused of witchcraft is burned at the stake and in the midst of the flames morphs into a salamander and escapes. The remainder of the story is told from the point-of-view of the reptile. According to World Literature Today contributor Janet Perez, the collection's "variety and appeal make it an excellent candidate for inclusion in courses on women's fiction, comparative literature, the short story, or literature in transition."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Ibarz, Marcè , Mercè Rodoreda, Ediciones Omega (Barcelona, Spain), 2004.
McNerney, Kathleen, editor, Voices and Visions: The Words and Works of Mercè Rodoreda, Susquehanna University Press (Sleinsgrove, PA), 1999.
Nadal, Marta, De foc i de seda: álbum biogràfic de Mercè Rodoreda, Institut d'Estudis Catalans (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.
Belles Lettres, spring, 1994, Janet Jones Hampton, review of Camellia Street, p. 58.
Booklist, October 1, 1993, review of Camellia Street, p. 256.
Hispania, September, 1992, Patricia V. Lunn, and Jane W. Albrecht, "La plaça del diamant: Linguistic Cause and Literary Effect," pp. 492-499; September, 1993, Janet Pérez, "Presence of the Picaresque and the Quest-Romance in Mercè Rodoreda's Quanta, quanta guerra," p. 428.
Kliatt, fall, 1986, review of The Time of the Doves, p. 17.
Library Journal, June 1, 1980, Dayle Mangers, review of The Time of the Doves, p. 1327; November 15, 1984, review of My Christina and Other Stories, p. 2114; September 15, 1993, review of Camellia Street, p. 106.
Modern Language Notes, March, 1999, Michael Ugarte, "Working at a Discount: Class Consciousness in Mercè Rodoreda's La placa del diamant," pp. 297-314.
Modern Language Review, January, 1999, Josep-Anton Fernandez, review of La plaça del diamant, p. 103; July, 1999, Montserrat Roser i Puig, review of La mort i la primavera, p. 863.
Ms., November, 1993, review of Camellia Street, p. 65.
New Age, July, 1985, review of My Christina and Other Stories, p. 66.
New York Times Book Review, December 2, 1984, Gregory Rabassa, "Catalan Magic," p. 68.
Ploughshares, winter, 1993, James Carroll, review of Camellia Street, p. 221.
Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1984, review of My Christina and Other Stories, p. 100; August 23, 1993, review of Camellia Street, p. 60.
School Library Journal, December, 1980, Nancy Chapin, review of The Time of the Doves, p. 80.
World Literature Today, winter, 1986, Kathleen McNerney, review of Cartes a l'Anna Muria, 1939–1956, p. 93; winter, 1986, Janet Pérez, review of My Christina and Other Stories, p. 93; summer, 1998, Kathleen McNerney, review of Una campaña de vidre: antologia de contes, p. 598.