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Catalan literature

Catalan literature, like the Catalan language, developed in close connection with that of Provence. In both regions the rhymed songs of the troubadours flourished as an art form from the 11th to the 14th cent. In the 13th cent. court chroniclers gave a fixed form to Catalan prose, and the language became an expressive literary medium in the works of the great Ramón Lull. At the end of the 14th cent. the art of the troubadours began to wane, and in the 15th cent. the influence of Dante and Petrarch was strong, particularly on the work of the poet Auziàs March. Tirant lo Blanch (1490), the chivalric novel of epic scope written primarily by Jeanot Martorell (and partially by Johan Martí de Galba), represents a high point of Catalan literature's golden age, which lasted through the mid-16th cent. From the rise of Castile during the Renaissance, Catalan literature was eclipsed until the 19th cent., when it experienced a marked revival. The great writers of this period were the dramatist Angel Guimerà and the poet Mosèn Jacinto Verdaguer. In the first part of the 20th cent. Catalan literature flourished. The realistic regional novel had first-rate exponents in Narcis Oller (1846–1930), Joaquim Ruyra (1858–1939), and Prudenci Bertrana (1867–1941). Joan Maragall (1860–1911) was regarded by Miguel de Unamuno as the best lyric poet of the Iberian peninsula. A unique and exotic note was the aesthetic dilettantism advocated by Eugenio d'Ors. After the end of the Spanish civil war the Franco regime persecuted Catalan authors and imposed a ban on Catalan books and publications. Although Catalan literary life proceeded underground, it was not until well after World War II that normal activity was resumed, reflected in the establishment of awards such as the City of Barcelona Prize for Catalan Poetry. Notable postwar poets include J. V. Foix, Maria Manent, Salvador Esprin, and Carles Riba. With the return of Spanish democracy, Catalan literature revived more markedly, attracting worldwide attention with the novels of Mercè Rodoreda (1909–83) and Terenci Moix (1943–), the plays of Jordi Teixidor (1939–), and the poetry of Pere Gimferrer (1945–).

See A. Terry, Catalan Literature (1972); D. Rosenthal, ed., Modern Catalan Poetry (1979); M. J. Schneider and I. Stern, Modern Spanish and Portuguese Literatures (1988).

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