Pedro Nilsson-Fernàndez Dorado
Pedro Nilsson-Fernàndez Dorado is a PhD Candidate at the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences in University College Cork, Ireland. He holds a M. Res in anglo-catalan Studies from the same college and a BA in English Philology from Universitat de Barcelona.
His PhD project consists on drawing a digital literary-historical map to visually represent the relationship between the works of prolific Catalan writer Manuel de Pedrolo and the development of the Catalan national literary space during the second half of the 20th Century.
PhD Project Description
Digitally Mapping the Relationships Between Manuel de Pedrolo’s Narrative and the Catalan National Literary Space During the Second Half of the 20th Century
In the 1974 novel Mecanoscrit del segon origen by Manuel de Pedrolo –the best selling Catalan novel of the 20th Century– the teenage couple formed by Alba and Dídac embark on an enterprise to safeguard the remnants of Catalan literature, scattered across a post-apocalyptic landscape used by the author to represent Catalonia under the Franco regime. The task bears a clear resemblance with Pedrolo’s actual lifetime aim; his contribution to the construction of a national literary space at a time when Catalan culture and identity were threatened by the systematic attacks of the Franco regime in Spain deserves fuller recognition.
This project sets out to draw a literary-historical map of Pedrolo’s production, that serves both to explore his relationship with the Catalan literary space as constructed during the second half of the 20th Century, and to explain why such a highly politicized literary project as his appeared at the same time to be detached from the Catalan national literary space. My analysis will highlight the author’s efforts to create a new model of Catalan literature that would free itself from Francoist Spain’s cultural and political isolation, through the incorporation of international literary models such as William Faulkner and Jean-Paul Sartre among others, thus relating Pedrolo’s production of popular literature to his overarching aesthetic/political project: to fill gaps in the existing Catalan literary space through an innovative and experimental approach not found in what he perceived to be the anachronistic practices of Noucentisme (the dominant pre-war aesthetic in the Catalan-speaking territories).
One of the aims of this project is to create a digital space in which the contribution of this author to the construction of the Catalan literary space is not only showcased and exemplified through his works, but also discussed by a research community that will be invited to engage with the project directly, exploring dynamic ways of perpetuating historical memory through the use of open source content that allows full access to the collaborative findings unveiled by this online debate. This will also create links between researchers from different fields, thus adding an interdisciplinary dimension to the project that the heterogeneous production of the author will enable. This dynamic contextual interpretative research environment will capture aspects of the works such as themes, genres, spaces and motifs, situating a number of key works within both the Catalan literary landscape and its territory.
The criteria followed in the selection of works and themes to be showcased will be conditioned by their relative importance in fulfilling Pedrolo’s task of constructing his one man literary field, while trying to be a fair representation of the fiction genres that Pedrolo cultivated during his career: poetry, drama, novel and short story. His extensive production comprises a total of 148 original works and 48 translations to Catalan from English and French authors. His immense production is distributed as follows in order of magnitude: first come his novels (76), followed by his plays (18), and ending with his poetry books (15) and short story collections (14). In addition to the published works, Pedrolo left a number of unpublished manuscripts in these four genres: one novel, one short story collection, ten poetry books and three plays. He also left three unpublished translations. As an essayist, Pedrolo has five published collections of articles to his name, as well as twenty essays appearing in several magazines, newspapers and literary publications.
The range of themes explored in his vast production is equally immense. Although he is undoubtedly best known for his commercially successful science fiction novel Mecanoscrit del segon origen, his novels and short stories span detective fiction and psychological thrillers, like Joc brut (1965) or Cendra per Martina (1965), erotic works such as Un amor fora ciutat (1970), as well as works with a more realist approach and political content, such as M'enterro en els fonaments (1967). His relatively brief experimentation with drama resulted in notable plays such as Cruma (1950) and Homes i no (1959), and even led to a mention in Martin Esslin’s classic study The Theatre of the Absurd (1961).
This project will ultimately attempt to recognise and give visibility to the author at this particular time, close to the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, a moment at which both the Catalan national literary space and the political space of the nation containing it are going through a process of self-interrogation and reconstruction. It is my belief that this will contribute in a significant way to bring to light aspects of an author that have been calling to be revisited for too long; in order to fully understand the Catalan struggle during Franco’s regime and the transition to democracy, together with the current socio-politic and linguistic situation in Catalonia, Pedrolo needs to return to the literary scene.