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The Catalan Nation and Identity Throughout History

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Edited By Àngels Casals Martinez and Giovanni C. Cattini

The present book is a complex approach to the elements that built the Catalan national identity, which can only be analyzed through its complexity and longue durée historical times.
Regarding medieval and early modern centuries, the territorial construction, law and state are presented, along with the complexity added by the appearance of composite monarchies in the 16th century, and taking into account the significance of constructing a literary and historiographic tradition to define national character.
Regarding modern centuries, the authors do not ignore the importance of socioeconomic dimensions in a very complex diversity which flows both in the intellectual and political world and in the dissemination of identity through the mass media in an international level as well.
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Poetry and Identity, by Marie-Claire Zimmermann

Poetry and Identity

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Marie-Claire ZIMMERMANN

Université de Paris-Sorbonne

I knew the title of my piece immediately. I wanted to discuss forms of Catalan identity as described in medieval literature and, above all, in medieval poetry. I am not speaking as a historian, but rather as a philologist, given that my essay consists of the interpretation of poetic text — rhetorical figures, meter, syntax, tonality, and the particular usage of the Catalan language in each poem — in order to get a view of how the essence of being Catalan is constructed during the Middle Ages, and to identify the origins of the Catalan personality, highlighting some elements that will endure no matter the obstacles or changes that come to pass, up until the present. Now you will ask: why limit yourself to poetry and not take into account prose, as illustrated by two particularly prestigious authors, Ramon Llull and Joanot Martorell? The former produced an undeniably universal body of work, and the latter produced that prodigious novel Tirant lo Blanc, cited and admired by Cervantes in Don Quixote. I would reply at once with two lines of argument: in France these writers are well known and there is a rich bibliography concerning Llull. However, the critics have not focused on the determinant elements of the Catalan identity. Moreover, the length of these works demands a series of studies and not a single presentation. That said, there is another argument that strikes me as even more valid, which is that poetry is...

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