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Wer war Joan Sales? Hinweis auf einen Autor [Who was Joan Sales? Hints on an author]

Keywords: reception , biography , politics , existentialism , intensity , style , religion , poetry , surrealism

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Abstract:

The major work of Joan Sales (1912-1983), the novel "Incerta glòria", has suffered a peculiar fate. In spite of the high praise expressed by Mercè Rodoreda in a letter to the author, the work was little acknowledged in Spain (the French translation, on the other hand, was more successful and was compared with the best novels by Bernanos). Only in recent years have critics increasingly surfaced, paying a befitting tribute to the book as a masterpiece and as a unique panorama of the Spanish Civil War and – along with the sequel "El vent de la nit" – the years of Francoism. The novel is clearly written from the view of the vanquished. This article outlines the life of Sales and demonstrates his approach of a critical, liberal and Catalan intellectual. As will be shown, the chief aim of the author is to experience and to seek the abundance of an intensive life, to create an intensity which is expressed in his literary style that is full of metaphors and, particularly, contrasts. A longer section of the article is dedicated to the vestiges of Kierkegaard in the novel. Within this it is above all the figure of the intellectual Soleràs who seems influenced by the Danish philosopher and progenitor of existentialism. The religious aspect is treated by Sales with particular tolerance. He rejects any form of power and hierarchy within religion and represents the theology of the cross, by attributing Christ as the God of the conquered. He defends a version of Catholicism which displays ecumenical traits. Of course, the classical criticism of religion (which viewed the childhood soul of the believer as a scandal) can be applied to the author, but he remains true to the spirit of the Gospel. At the end of the essay an eye is cast over poetry written by the author, in addition to his novel, and the implied attitude towards surrealism is investigated. From this a certain break with the surreal and the conception of the unconscious becomes evident. "Incerta glòria" is, by contrast, is monolithic and wholeheartedly successful. The novel encompasses the totality of the human and preaches a spirit for which any policies of exclusion are foreign.

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