[Reigian Studies.] [On behalf of the baroness.]

30.6.08

In honor of Manuel de Pedrolo, by Carles Reig





[This article appeared for the first time in Diari de Lleida, shortly after Manuel de Pedrolo’s passing, August 1990.]








PEDROLO





By Carles Reig






Tell me if you know, who is the envious fellow who deceives the critic Seymour-Smith, under whose name the massive work called “Guide To Modern World Literature” recently appeared. For it’s plain that somebody must have lied to him. You are not going to tell me that the poor guy has read all the books in the “modern world.” For starters (and that’s the damnedest doozy,) you won’t find the references to the Catalan Literature under the letter C. Find them instead mislaid under the letter S, as an appendix to “spain”! Even if the author acknowledges that: “Catalonian literature is huge enough that it could have deserved an independent section in the present book,” he states that, due to questions related to maps and provisional political situations, he prefers to take it easy and throngs us with the spaniards. Only that there’s worse: the way he treats Pedrolo himself. Gives him just one small paragraph. And finds almost nothing of praise to say about him. There’s this of mildly complimentary: “According to the critic Tasis (1954,) Manuel de Pedrolo is the more considerable Catalan writer since Narcís Oller.” But immediately he counterattacks: “His plays, written in Beckett’s style, are totally derivative.” And continues pounding hard, though not only over Pedrolo’s head, over the whole of Catalonian Literature: “All things considered, Catalan Literature perhaps is not at the moment neither too interesting nor original.”



We must be wondering where did Seymour-Smith find, among “our” shitty mass of critics, such a “luminary” who dared nonetheless serve him this damned cant. You must suspect more or less who if you realize that in that ridiculous book such a banal dwarf as Josep Maria Castellet [little castle,] for instance, receives more attention than Pedrolo, when the latter is one of the biggest castles in all our history.



Pedrolo alone is equivalent to a whole generation of writers that together would have successfully dealt with all sorts of literary genres. And, taking his work in bulk, he is the best novelist that we have ever had. Among the contemporaneous writers, he is the more consequential, respected and influential. He’s never surrendered, never diminished himself to write in the enemy’s language. And as a commentator, he’s a winner all the way through; nothing goes to waste of what he writes – an exemplary and patriotic ideologue. From the word go to the last word. The articles he’s written lately for the magazine “El Temps” have to be anthological. Also, in his works, you’ll find all the strata of the geography of the resistance, and of the traitors’ interlude when the freedom from francoism was compromised by the cowardice of our leaders, so that from the francoist dictatorship we went straight to the monarchic dictatorship, no solution of continuity – and if you doubt my words take a peak outside and tell me to whom if not to the enemy belong the occupying soldiers and police you see so well-armed against us.



Personally I hold Pedrolo to be up in the Olympus of the classics. And that, to be more precise, since 1967. The year of “Let me bury myself in the bedrock” and “All the beasts of burden.”



Ah, the remembered glory of starting to read that last book! We, my friend Joan Ardèvol and I, were going back to Lleida from Barcelona. At a small station, not far yet from the big city, our sorry derelict of a train stalled, and just side by side forthwith another garbage of a train, the cars of which were crammed with poor spanish soldiers ludicrously scalped, also stalled. As I happened to lean outside the window, the shit-colored assholes in front, seeing my svelte-shape and my elegance, my long flowing hairs, my rich powerful beard..., they became delirious with envy, and they started hurling my precious way all kind of lame insults. Emboldened and filled with pride thanks to my Pedrolo, I replied with the most obnoxious and beautiful and convoluted slurs and oaths of the Catalonian language. When their train started off again, and then ours did the same, I went back to my wooden unhinged seat... John and I were laughing, each of us holding our own Pedrolo, when lo, the little man seated in front of us (he must have been only five or six years older than us,) got up, let go of his bible, or gospel, o whatever the collection of moorish claptrap that he was pretending to read, one of those bad kitschy novels of ancient times that this type of bigoted wetblanket always happens to have under his bloody nose when in public, took his arms up, as in an invocation to the clattering heavens, reached for his bag, extracted from it a soutane, and slipped under it. All of a sudden the little nitwit had become a regular priest full of self-given authority. Disguised with the fucking priest’s frock, he thought he could stab us with one of his silly sermons. “As an ethics professor in our holy seminary, I feel obliged to upbraid you for all those grave swear-words so unfit, so unbecoming in the mouth of a well brought-up member of our youth...” I couldn’t take it. I jumped: “And why the fuck are those words not good enough? Perhaps not in you jerk’s world. Here!” And with this I threw over his lap full of skirts Pedrolo’s book, in order that he had a taste of the real world. He stopped, rather surprised, confused. Meanwhile I had started telling him about some of the salient points in the book... “While in school the teachers, instead of teaching the world to the children, choose to cut their tongues, the elders have decided never to lift even the pinky finger if not on behalf of the mother... And listen, you know who this mother is...? Catalonia, the same Catalonia now occupied by those same teachers and the armed fascists that impose them to us. A Catalonia that is the whole Catalonia, that’s the mother. The Catalonia that includes the little Catalunya, and the Lands Over the Mountains and the Toll Line, and the Land of the Sheiks and the Isles Altogether... That’s the complete Catalonia, which has never, not morally, not mentally, not culturally, been part of asspain; the name itself says it all, asspain, or the nausea and the uselessness of it all. Do you get it now? That’s what you must read and teach, and not the hogwash you are selling now.”



Well, all that – and certainly much more, as for instance his indefatigable and essential push to bring us up-to-date in reference to the current literary styles – all that Pedrolo managed, with outstanding skill, during all those years, to communicate to us. When, a few years later, I was working for the publishers of “Edicions 62,” one day I was given to correct the proofs of one of his books (Analytic Situation was its name;) fine, and, besides the fact though that there was nothing of note to correct, what really astounded me was the amount of pages, whole pages and pages, crossed out with red pencil, forbidden thus publication by the “previous” or preemptive censure (religious and political.) Amazing. And then I understood that that must have been one of Pedrolo’s schemes, devised in order to manage to pass on some symbolic fine points, which, in the minds of well-informed people, could later be construed (reconstructed) into proper information; that was his technique: he would pour it on in a few pages that were bound to dazzle the censors, both the censors from the ecclesiastic branch and the invading army’s branch, and thus, blinded by the garish light of the burning pages, both miss the little disguised pokes, of as much or more import, hidden elsewhere. One of the strategies proposed by one of the characters of this book was to infiltrate, with Catalonians ready to sabotage the enemy’s organizations from the inside, the terrorist state’s institutions, as the repugnant fascist party (“la falange,”) or the sham “educational” system. Naturally, all that was censored outright. Indeed Pedrolo must have been the most censored of all our writers. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s no better sign of goodness. When you see who are the dismal poor creeps that wield the red pencil like a useless little prick, the more you are censured, the more valuable’s gotta be what you proffer.



Anyhow, Pedrolo’s has to be the mirror for every writer that starts writing. Not those damned puny whores sold to the enemy, appendicular, bilingual, self-righteous, shitted all over, licking the thrones, traitorous and bigoted. He has got to be our best example – he has never sold out, not to any of the occupying regimes, neither the one before, nor the present one. True that, because he chose never to lick up the sphincters of the oppressors, others less delicate than him hogged the glaring light of official propaganda, but all those bastards, all those mongrel turd-eaters that write for the treasonous newspapers of Barcelona, as the “Rat-Guard for the Shitholer’s Army” [La Vanguardia Espanola,] explaining most boringly the pretty consistence of the stinking piece of lint they fished from their rotten navels..., they amount to what...? Yikes!



And that’s what I’m telling you, that without Pedrolo and his skill at communicating far and wide the hardy and fearless messages, truths deprived of the clerical and divine crutches of paralysis, truths never predetermined by lying rubbish of conjoint destinies and falsified historicisms..., many of us wouldn’t have had even the stamina to start writing in Catalonian. For, believe me, those days without Pedrolo, you can’t imagine the dead plumbeous atmosphere: unbreathable. Outside of his writings, the rest of stuff that would appear (what wouldn’t come out, couldn’t be known, of course; the fascistic censure busy as hell the whole time,) weren’t but worthless christian or marxist pieties, and even worse: plain fascist shit.



So, now that we were talking about providential gifts to humanity, here you’ve got Pedrolo himself, not a better gift for us, strong and erect – as a great cathedral – or actually much better, for sure.



















PEDROLO





Carles Reig






Quin envejós enganya el crític M. Seymour-Smith, qui signa l’obra massissa que se’n diu “Guide To Modern World Literature”? Perquè bé cal que algú l’hagi enganyat. No em direu pas que aquest pobre home s’ha llegits tots els llibres del món modern. Per començar (farem goig), heu d’anar a cercar les referències que pertanyen a “Catalan Literature” no pas a la “C”, sinó perdudes per la “S”, en un apèndix a “Spain”! Tot i que l’autor reconeix que: “–El català prou s’hauria pogut merèixer, amb totes les de la llei, un tractament separat en aquest llibre”, en realitat, per coses de mapes i polítiques, ens encabeix amb els espanyols. Però encara és pitjor la manera com tracta En Pedrolo. Un paragrafet, i gairebé només hi troba a dir males coses. Una de les bones que hi posa és: “–Segons Tasis (al 1954), Manuel de Pedrolo és el novel·lista català més considerable d'ençà d’Oller.” Però de seguida ataca: “–Les seues obres de teatre, a l’estil de Beckett, són totalment derivatives.” I continua atacant, en el paragrafet dedicat a En Pedrolo: “–Tot fet i dit, la literatura catalana potser no és, de moment, ni gaire interessant ni gaire original.”



Cal demanar-se quin altre “savi” entre la merda de crítics que tenim ha passada aquesta maleïda informació. Penseu que En Pedrolo, en aquest llibre desgraciat, hi és menys considerat que alguns dels més banals dels nostres intel·lectuals, un nan com En Castellet, per exemple. Quan En Pedrolo és un dels castells més grans de tota la història catalana.



Ell tot sol equival a tota una generació d’escriptors que toqués tota mena de gèneres. Pres en la seua obra total, és, de lluny, el millor novel·lista que mai hem tingut. I, entre els contemporanis, el més conseqüent, respectable i influent. Mai no s’ha rebaixat a escriure en la llengua de l’enemic. Com a comentarista, no té pas pèrdua. Un ideòleg exemplar i patriòtic. Des del començament fins ara. Els Fulls de Diari que treu al “Temps” han d’ésser antològics. A les seues obres, s’hi troba tota la geografia detallada de la resistència, i llavors la de l’alliberament traït de la post dictadura franquista, és a dir, la que tenim ara, la dictadura monàrquica (o, si això no, ja em direu per què estem ocupats de policies i de soldats que no són gent de la nostra?).



Per a mi, fa anys que En Pedrolo és a l’Olimp dels clàssics. D’ençà de l’any 67, per a ésser exacte, l’any de “M'enterro en els fonaments” i de “Totes les bèsties de càrrega”.



Amb quina glòria vaig començar a llegir aquest darrer! Me’n recordo que aquella tarda, tornava a Lleida, amb tren, amb el meu amic, En Joan Ardèvol, des de Barcelona. En una estacioneta de prop la sortida, la nostra carraca de tren s’aturà davant part davant d’una altra carregada de pobres soldats espanyols pelats al zero. Jo m’havia arropenjat a la finestra. Quan els putejats pelacanyes em van veure tan elegant amb els meus cabells llargs i esponerosa barba, es van posar a delirar i a dir-me de tot. Jo, orgullós i valent gràcies al meu Pedrolo, els contestava amb els renecs i gruixuts insults més bells i cargolats del català. Quan llur tren engegà, i llavors el nostre, vaig tornar al banc de fusta esbalandrada. Ens em rèiem amb En Joan, ell amb el seu Pedrolo a la mà, jo amb el meu a la meua, quan l’homenet qui teníem assegut al davant (només cinc o sis anys més vell que nosaltres), s’aixecà, deixà de banda la bíblia, l’evangeli o alguna altra d’aquestes males novel·les de moro de l’any de la quica que sempre fan veure (en públic) que llegeixen aquesta mena de gent colltorta, allargà els braços cap al cel, abastà la seua bossa, en tragué una sotana, i se l’encabí. Tot de sobte, l’homenoi s’havia tornat un capellà amb tots els ets i uts. Llavors, amb allò, es cregué facultat a etzibar-nos un sermó: “–Com a professor d’ètica que sóc del seminari, us haig de reptar per totes aquestes paraulotes, que no són gens dignes d’un jovent com cal, etc.” Vaig saltar: “–Que collons, no han d’estar bé, aquests paraules? A quin món vius, gamarús?” I li vaig llençar a les faldilles, perquè aprengués de la vida, el llibre sagrat d’En Pedrolo. Va restar una mica esbalaït. Jo li citava alguns punts colpidors del llibre secret: “–Dementre que els mestres, per comptes d’ensenyar el món als infants, els tallen la llengua a cop de ganivet, els grans s’han resolt a no aixecar ni el dit menut que no sigui per la mare…; i sabeu quina mare és aquesta? La Catalunya ocupada per aqueixos mestrots i els armats que ens els encolomen. Una Catalunya que és la totalitat (és a dir, que inclou la Catalunyeta, les Terres de dellà les Muntanyes i la Ratlla, la Terra dels Xes i les Illes), i, ni moralment ni mentalment ni culturalment, mai no ha formada part d’Espanya, que és el nom per antonomàsia de la nosa i la inutilitat. Compreneu? Ve-t’ho aquí, el que heu de llegir i ensenyar, i no pas les vostres rucades.”



Tot això (i molt més, com ara la intervenció cabdal i contínua de posar-nos al dia pel que fa als estils literaris de cada moment al món), tot això En Pedrolo ens ho comunicava amb la traça més gran. Passant per la vora de la censura més criminal. Quan, uns anys més tard, vaig treballar per a Edicions 62, un dia em van fer esmenar un llibre d’ell (Situació Analítica, es deia); doncs bé, a part que tot hi era perfectament correcte, me’n recordo que allò que em deixava acollonit era el pilot de pàgines senceres ratllades de vermell, que la censura prèvia li prohibia de publicar. Aquesta era una de les tècniques d’En Pedrolo per a poder passar detalls simbòlics que, en l’esment de la gent prou assabentada, poguessin ésser traduïts en informació: carregava les tintes en unes quantes pàgines que obnubilessin prou els censuradors eclesiàstics i invasors, i així de vegades no s’adonaven pas d’entretocs més dissimulats, però tant o més colpidors. Una de les astúcies que un dels personatges propugnava en aquest llibre era la d’infiltrar, amb catalans preparats a sabotejar-les des de dins, la repugnant falange, el fals sistema educatiu, i tota mena d’altres organitzacions feixistes. És clar, li ho censuraven en bloc. De fet, En Pedrolo deu haver estat el més profusament censurat dels nostres escriptors. Ara, ep, aquest és un bon senyal, que et censurin. Vistos qui són els desgraciats qui et censuren, com més censurat, més ha de valer el que dius.



Ell ha d’ésser el mirall per a qualsevol escriptor qui comenci. Res de meuques dolentes i venudes a l’enemic, res de sucursalistes, bilingües, hipòcrites, cagats, llepacorones, caragirats i colltorts. Ha d’ésser l’exemple més fort que tenim; mai s’ha venut a cap dels règims ocupants, ni al d’abans ni al d’ara. És veritat que, perquè no llepa les crestes fastigoses del règim, d’altres li prenen el lloc a la propaganda; tots aquests apama’m-el-cul híbrids, bords, qui escriuen pels diaris dels botiflers de Barcelona (“La Rata-Guàrdia de l’Exèrcito Ethpanyol”), explicant carregosament les entremaliadures d’un pessic de borra adorablement perdut pel forat de llur melic... Ecs!



Guaiteu què us dic, que, sense En Pedrolo i la seua habilitat de fer-nos arribar els missatges valents i sense crosses divines ni clericals, ni predeterminades per ximpleries de destins i historicismes, molts de nosaltres ni haguéssim començat a escriure en català. En aquells dies foscs, quin avorriment esgarrifós, vós. Tret d’ell, tot el que sortia (el que no sortia pas, és clar, era com si tampoc no hi fos) eren pietats cristianes, marxistes i (encara pitjor) ja purament feixistoides.



Així que, parlant de dons providencials, amb En Pedrolo ací en teniu un fet i dret, com una catedral, o millor.




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