Albert, Caterina (1869–1966)

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Albert, Caterina (1869–1966)

Catalonian author. Name variations: Catarina; Víctor Català; Virgili Alacseal. Born Caterina Albert i Paradís on September 11, 1869, in L'Escala, Spain, on the Costa Brava; died in L'Escala in 1966; daughter of Lluis Albert i Paradeda and Dolors Paradís i Farrés. Selected works: Solitud (1905); Caires vius (1907).

Growing up in the village of L'Escala, Caterina Albert rarely attended school. Instead, she studied mostly with her maternal grandmother, Caterina Farrés i Sureda , with whom her family lived. In 1890, Albert's father died; in 1899, her grandmother Caterina died. From this point forward, the family lived intermittently in Barcelona until they took up permanent residence there in 1904.

Albert had interests in both writing and art, but her poetry and theatrical pieces were the most cultivated. She adopted the pseudonym Virgili Alacseal and in 1898 won the Jocs Florals Prize for her first monologue, "La Infanticida" (The Infanticide). In 1901, she assumed the identity of Víctor Català, the name of a main male character in a novel she was writing. Though the novel was never completed, in 1901, as Català, she published three more dramatic pieces and a collection of poetry, El cant dels messos (Song of the Months), all of which won critical praise (though none of the dramas were actually performed until 1967).

As Català, Albert wrote of stark subjects with a masculine voice. She corresponded with admirers and critics as Català and was praised as one of the leading male writers of Catalan. Not until 1902, following publication of her second volume of poetry, did she reveal her true gender in correspondence with the male critic Joan Maragall. Though Maragall received the revelation well and admired her talents, not everyone was so generous. By and large, Albert was chided for her unladylike subject matter. Subsequent works nevertheless retained their earlier tone. Beginning in 1905, Albert's first novel, Solitud (Solitude), was serialized in 46 segments by the journal Joventut. Her talent for the visual arts was not recognized until 1955 with the publication of a book showing her drawings, paintings and sculpture.

Considered the greatest Catalonian woman writer, Albert was so private that in interviews she was unwilling to reveal even her favorite authors. Therefore, little of her adult life—except that of her male personas as depicted in correspondences—is known. After the Spanish Civil War, Albert returned to her home in L'Escala where she lived until her death in 1966.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts

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Albert, Caterina (1869–1966)

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