Underappreciated: Mercè Rodoreda

Monday, August 04, 2008

We continue our Underappreciated summer reading series with a look at Mercè Rodoreda, who wrote The Time of the Doves in exile after Franco's regime began to suppress her native Catalan language and culture. A powerful story of a young shopkeeper living through the Spanish civil war, it’s considered by many to be the best Catalan novel of all time. Author Sandra Cisneros tells us why it should be more widely read.


Sandra Cisneros

Comments [12]


I just started reading The Time of the Doves (La placa del diamant) in English and can't wait to read it in Spanish. But the above commenter's remark that some of Rodoreda's sentences and descriptions are "so feminine as to be almost non understandible [sic] to a man" sounds a bit ridiculous to me. Would you say that Hemingway's terse/detailed descriptions of fishing, bullfighting, drinking, and ham sandwiches are so masculine as to be almost incomprehensible to a woman?

Nov. 04 2009 10:15 AM
Tony from Sparta, NJ

Here a year later I would like to add my opinion to those written. I read the book
La Plaza del Diamante in Spanish.I got my copy from the on board books on Iberia Airlines some years ago and only finished reading it today. I cannot imagine reading it in english.
The book is written in an Iberian language, whether Catalan or Spanish. The sentence structure could not do it justice in a non Romance language. I began to read it myself, and then started it over again reading it aloud
to my wife, who is also fluent in Spanish. The long sentences of paragraph length and the very
detailed descriptions of rooms, flowers, pigeons, bows, dresses, underwear etc. are so feminine as to be almost non understandible to a man.
She is a woman's writer. We both commented that this was an Iberian "Gone With The Wind".

Sep. 23 2009 02:05 PM
Irene Prieto from New York City

a ps, with apologies toDavid H. Rosenthal...

"(...) Gabriel García Márquez ha dejado constancia de su admiración por la Rodoreda. De "La Plaza del Diamante" dijo que era la novela más bella publicada en España desde la Guerra Civil, y en otro momento confesó haberse inspirado, para la muerte del Dr. Juvenal ("El amor en los tiempos del cólera"), en "Una carta", pequeño cuento muy conmovedor que figura, por cierto, no entre los Veintidós citados, sino entre los diecisiete que constituyen la colección "Mi Cristina y otros cuentos".

Vinieron después "La calle de las Camelias" (1966), y "Jardín junto al mar" (1967).
Sin embargo, fue "Espejo roto" (1975) la novela con que Mercè Rodoreda se convirtió en una escritora de éxito. Su obra ha sido trasladada del catalán al inglés por el excelente catalanista norteamericano David H. Rosenthal, quien apunta en su prefacio: "Mercè Rodoreda, la mayor novelista catalana contemporánea y posiblemente la mejor autora mediterránea desde Safo...".

Aug. 06 2008 08:33 PM
Irene Prieto from New York City

I was very pleased to hear about Merce Rodoreda, whom I came to be interested in, first by Garcia Marquez' positive comments about her (and his confessed 'borrowing' of a scene from one of her beautiful short stories in 'My Cristina"), and then through the excellent translation of her work by Rosenberg. I went on to read more of her work, in Spanish translation, and ended by even writing a short essay about her (see my blog: http:/
At the same time, as previous listeners have mentioned, I was a little disappointed at Cisnero's lack of knowledge (curiosity) about both Catalan language and Rodoreda's life, spaces that were quite well filled by Lopate's information.

Aug. 06 2008 08:20 PM
jon clarke from ny

Wow couldn't you have found someone a little bit more knowledgeable on the subject. Hey I read Hamlet once. do yo want to interview me on Shakespeare?

Aug. 05 2008 05:19 PM
Chad W. Post from Rochester, NY

The publishing house that I direct--Open Letter ( be publishing the first English translation of Rodoreda's DEATH AND SPRINGTIME next summer. This was Rodoreda's last book, and is considered to be one of her masterpieces. It's a fantastic and strange book, and in the near future we'll be putting a sample of Martha Tennent's translation on our website.

And in terms of Catalan literature, we're also planning on publishing Quim Monzo, one of Catalan's most well-known contemporary writers, and hope to publish more Catalan titles in the future. After visiting Barcelona and meeting with a slew of editors, critics, and authors, I'm comfortable in saying that Catalonia has one of the most vibrant and interesting literary traditions in the world.

Aug. 05 2008 08:56 AM
Peter from Morritown, NJ

I was surprised at the ignorance of the Catalan language displayed on today's show. (Not at all up to the usual excellent standard.)

Catalan is alive and well in the Catalonia region of Spain, of which the major city is Barcelona. It is not just a rural dialect. In sddition to a literature in its own right, there are Catalan daily newspapers, Catalan signs in the stores and one hears the langauge. A few years ago I attended the opera in Barcelona and was surprised to receive a program printed only in Catalan. While I do not know Spanish at all, I do speak French fluently. I was surprised at how close Catalan is to French. Different spellings and pronunciations, but clearly more or less readable to one who can read French.

Aug. 04 2008 04:55 PM
w from Manhattan

Sandra Cisneros's enthusiasm is so contagious!

Aug. 04 2008 01:38 PM
elvira Moran

Picasso was from Malaga (andalucia)

the reason there is a tradition of catalonian literature is not from being oppressed is because Catalonia is and has been one of the richest regions of Spain with a very strong middle class that supported the arts

Leonard stop trying to proof how much you know and listen to your guess

Aug. 04 2008 01:00 PM
Michelle Armas from Atlanta

Beautiful book, read it in Spanish years ago. I feel certain that he calls her "little dove" b/c she stays with him, will always comes back, just like a dove.

Aug. 04 2008 01:00 PM
Marisa from NYC

Picasso is not from the Catalan region he was Andalusian!!!

Aug. 04 2008 12:54 PM
Caroline from NYC

Catalan is its own Romance language, just like Spanish, French or Italian, etc. It's not a dialect. Just an FYI...

Aug. 04 2008 12:44 PM

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