Six Authors from Northern Catalonia

Six authors, Joan-Lluís Lluís, Joan Daniel Bezsonoff, Pascal Comelade, Jordi Pere Cerdà, Patrick Gifreu and Gerard Jacquet, tell how the linguistic reality in Northern Catalonia influences their work.

1. Joan Lluís Lluís

Author of Conversa amb el meu gos sobre França i els francesos [Conversation with my dog about France and the French] (La Magrana), Joan Lluís Lluís explains that in France there is a single line of thought which declares that the frontiers of the country are unchangeable and that everyone is a descendent of the Gauls. It doesn't matter that Northern Catalonia was populated by the Ibers. What was there before France annexed it in 1569 has no real existence.

In Perpignan, there have been two kinds of response to his book. 'One from the people who want to read in Catalan, who have been interested, critical at times, but interested. The other has come from people who don't read Catalan, expressing their indifference, and from people on both Left and Right who do read Catalan and have heard of the book but have said that they don't want to read it, because they reject the critique it puts forward. They are living in the dream of French Jacobinism, of centralism.'

A journalist with the Punt Diari Catalunya Nord in its first incarnation from 1987 on, and a contributor to the present, more reduced version of the paper since the mid 1990s, Lluís, born in Perpignan in 1963, first attracted attention as a writer in 1993 with a novel at variance with the regionalist thematic agenda, Els ulls de sorra [The Eyes of Sand], published by La Magrana.

'We are heading towards a kind of decadence on the French model. At present we are in a phase in which a form of decentralization is beginning, but this decentralization provokes fear and is accompanied by an authoritarian backlash against the [minority] languages.' And he reminds us that the French State has gone along with the other countries of the EU in signing the European Charter of Minority Languages, but has yet to ratify it.

Lluís writes in Catalan amid the indifference of the majority of the population of Northern Catalonia, which he has felt tempted to leave. For the time being he is still there, and trying to do 'what I believe is just, regardless of whether it has a future or not. I will try never to write in French'. He says that the French do not need him, and he does not need them - a conviction he has arrived at gradually.

'I started off feeling more French than Catalan, then French and Catalan in equal measure, then more Catalan than French and now only Catalan', something that amounts to saying 'like an extraterrestrial in my own home'. He continues: 'I'm not like those pensioners in the Front National, intolerant, mean-spirited. They feel at home here; I don't, and that's very strange. We end up with the paradox that you feel more at home in the Empordà'.

© University of Wales, Aberystwyth 2002-2009       home  |  e-mail us  |  back to top
site by CHL