The Gray Notebook
The Gray Notebook
New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590176719, 638pp.
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Pla, one of the great Catalan writers, held on to this youthful journal for close to fifty years, reworking and adding to it, until he finally published "The Gray Notebook" as both the first volume and the capstone of his collected works. It is a beautiful, entrancing, delightful book at once a distillation of the spirit of youth and the work of a lifetime.
“Josep Pla was a great noticer of things and places; his gaze was alert and dry; he wrote in a style which registered both the smallest detail and the large picture. His relationship to Catalan identity and Spanish history was complex, often ambiguous. His relationship, however, to the scene in front of him, or the days in which he lived, remains fascinating for its clarity, its sharpness, its originality and its wit. On display in his work is a glittering and sparkling sensibility.” —Colm Tóibín
“Considered one of the most influential Catalan authors of the twentieth century, [Pla] was born and raised in the Empordà, and over the course of his life wrote over 30,000 pages of prose in which he diligently catalogued the landscape and the life and habits of the people of the region. His complete works, published and republished over the years, contain marvelous descriptive passages that capture the landscape’s history and its complex topography at once.” —Words Without Borders
“Josep Pla has long been considered one of the finest writers of autobiographical texts in any of the languages of Spain.” —Hispanic Review
“Pla seems to enjoy an almost constant series of presence effects in plays of light and shadows, expressions on faces, turns of phrase, the direction of the wind. His own encounters with presence are what illuminate the communicative potential that the landscape holds, if we approach it the right way.” —Romance Quarterly
“Born in Palafrugell, Josep Pla was a popular journalist who traveled widely to report on world events. His politics, conservative yet liberal, joined with an ironic skepticism that did not endear him to Catalan leftists and nationalists. Yet by the end of his life he was recognized as the most distinguished prose stylist in Catalan. His devotion to writing is evident in his collected works, which fill forty-six volumes. The Gray Notebook is a diary from 1918–19 that Pla revised over many decades.” —World Literature Today
“The grand old man of Catalan letters and one of Spain’s most prolific writers.” —Chicago Tribune