Alyssa Rosenthal ’13
Students and faculty gathered at the Underground Coffeehouse Thursday to celebrate the legacy of the distinguished Catalan modernist Joan Maragall.
Sponsored by the Office of International Programs and the Hispanic Studies Department, “Enduring Legacy of Joan Maragall and Modernist Barcelona” consisted of presentations, poem readings, and discussion to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the intellectual’s death.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies Paula Sprague introduced the event, which she put together with help from Emily Pariseau ‘12, the Student Ambassador for the Trinity-in-Barcelona study abroad program.
Sprague explained that 2011 was the 100th anniversary of Maragall’s death, and to think of Trinity’s event as “closing off the year of commemoration.”
Associate Professor of Language and Culture Studies Thomas Harrington then briefly contextualized Maragall’s work with some history and facts about the time period in which he lived.
“There are certain moments in history with a lot going on,” said Harrington, “between 1888 and 1911 Barcelona had one of these.”
He explained how Maragall, as a journalist, poet, and essayist, was an “integral part of the bourgeoisie” of and beyond Barcelona.
Maragall was a proud Catalan, but unlike many intellectuals of the period he had no problems writing in Castilian, which created many more opportunities for communication and collaboration with other academics throughout the Iberian Peninsula.
He also knew German and translated many philosophical works, including Nietzsche, which was a very unique skill that allowed Maragall to stand out among his contemporaries.
According to Harrington, he was a pioneer of Catalan modernist poetry, and an advocate for “open and communicative catalanism” between the upper and lower classes.
Harrington’s introduction was followed by six readings of Maragall’s most famous poems, first in English and then in Spanish.
The poems, “Paternal,” “La Vaca Ciega,” “Las Montañas,” “Oda a España,” “Vistas al Mar,” and “Canto Espiritual” gave students a taste of Maragall’s work and the themes and concepts it dealt with.
Harrington pointed out that although many of Maragall’s ideas were radical for a man of his social status writing at the turn of the nineteenth century, he “dared to be sincere and trusted enormously in the power of sincerity” so he often got away with them.
However, Maragall was accused of being a traitor for his essay “La Ciudad del Perdon,” which was censored upon publication.
Maragall’s legacy remains very apparent and important in present day Barcelona. A statue was erected two years after his death in Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella, and his name adorns avenues and buildings throughout the city.
His grandson, Pascual Maragall, was the governor of the city when it hosted the Olympics in 1992, and he later served as the President of Catalonia from 2003 to 2006.