A Matter of Translation
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
«The light comes from the north» said Joan Maragall, and it is
true that for Catalans German culture has often represented a
lighthouse that illuminated the way. The manner in which this
insightful poet, translator and thinker —who passed away in
1911— connected with the German cultural legacy reveals a great
deal. He translated Faust by Goethe, but not the complete work,
just the framework of the tragedy. His translation only includes
the scenes with Gretchen –who he calls «Margarideta».
In other words, what he was drawn to was the extreme fragility
of the protagonist. Maragall also wrote a long epic poem, but
his Comte Arnau does not have much in common with Goethe’s
majestic hero, but instead it is oddly similar to a short story by
Franz Kafka, Der Jäger Gracchus. Like Kafka’s mysterious
moribund traveler, Maragall’s Arnau cannot live or die, he is a man
trapped in a never-ending state of distress, always ﬂeeing from
some danger or pursuing some impossible goal, without any recognition or glory whatsoever... It becomes clear
that the two heroes, worn out from ﬁghting, speak to us of the fragility of peoples that don’t quite know if they
are still “alive” or whether they have ceased to exist in everyone’s eyes.
The Catalan culture and the German culture are, therefore, two different —and in some cases, diametrically
opposed— cultures. One is big and the other is quite small; one not only is internationally recognized, inﬂuential
and powerful, but has also been strongly marked by the abuse of power in the 20th century, while the other,
in exchange, is fragile, insecure and has been systematically persecuted for decades throughout that same
century. How did these two cultures ever ﬁnd each other? How could two peoples with such different histories
establish any sort of dialogue, especially considering these two countries are situated at opposite ends of the
European continent? Often we forget that the simplest deﬁnition of culture could be a space within which we
are willing to understand others, where we accept our insurmountable differences and we interest ourselves in
other destinies that have nothing to do with our own worries.
In 2007 Catalan culture was the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It would be wrong, however, to
think that this milestone marks a beginning. Instead, Frankfurt 2007 was an opportunity to offer the world
a glimpse of everything that, in fact, already existed. At the start of the 20th century the German Romance
scholars, thanks to their studies and methodology, gave an important boost to the process of modernizing
the Catalan language, as can be seen when we observe the similar nature of the lexical entries of the Brothers
Grimm Deutsches Wörterbuch and the ten volumes of the Diccionari català-valencià-balear by Antoni M.
Alcover. In the end it was Pompeu Fabra’s reform of the Catalan language that gained the largest number of
supporters, as people (of their own accord) accepted his standard because it was useful. And the proof of this
is that in the early years of Franco’s dictatorship the authorities permitted the publication of an extremely
limited number of books in Catalan, but those few titles had to be written with the pre-Fabra Catalan spelling.
If the regime had managed to impose this measure, then Catalan would have become a divided and weakened
language, reduced to a mere folkloric ornament.
One of the most exciting moments in the history of German culture’s inﬂuence is quite possibly the year 1943.
That year Carles Riba, who had been forced to abandon his native land and settle in a small French town,
evoked the temple of Sounion. Carles Riba had lived through the defeat of the Republican democracy, and
when he decided to write a familiar lament for the lost home he knew how to best make it sound like an elegy.
There is no doubt that his master had been Friedrich Hölderlin. Les elegies de Bierville by Riba evokes the
dark trees and the slender columns of a Greek temple, and by uniting these two opposites in a single gaze he
was better able to express his grief. But it is also good to know that only ﬁfteen copies were published of Carles
Ribas’ translation of Les Versions de Hölderlin, and with a false publication date and location— reﬂecting the
difﬁcult conditions of the Barcelona of 1944, when any kind of translation into Catalan was strictly forbidden.
It should be no surprise, therefore, that Catalonia has practically adopted authors like Bertolt Brecht or Rainer
Maria Rilke. Salvador Espriu, who copied by hand entire poems by Rilke for his private archive, today has
his entire poetic works translated into German. And the ﬁrst translation of Kafka on the Iberian Peninsula
was also into Catalan; El procés was translated in 1966 by Gabriel Ferrater with a degree of sensibility that is
only possible when a poet recognizes himself in the voice of another poet. By analogy Catalonia can also easily
understand Thomas Bernhard’s critical view of Austrian identity (which was based on amnesia), as in Spain
the ofﬁcial optimism Spanish Transition’s silenced many infamies. It is also no accident that Paul Celan is the
German poet who has most inﬂuenced young Catalan poets.
seven communities, one language
In other words, Pedra de tartera by Maria Barbal or Les veus de Pamano by Jaume Cabré, which achieved
enormous success after the Frankfurt Book Fair of 2007, were not without their predecessors. But the case of
these two novels is also interesting because in these two books German readers —perhaps unconsciously—
found the predominant genre of their popular literature of the 19th century, the Dorfgeschichte, except this
time it was not an idyllic tale about rural life, but instead the story was set in a Pyrenees wilderness full of deep
In Europe, translation is not just the only language we share, it is our only reality: we are constantly encountering
concepts that are unfamiliar to us, but we rework them, we adapt them, we “translate” them and we end up
using them. In the botanical garden of Blanes, engraved in the rock of a cliff, Goethe’s verses ask us: «Weisst du
das Land wo die Zitronnen blühn?» [Do you know the land where the lemon trees bloom?] In how many more
rocks of the Mediterranean could we potentially ﬁnd engravings that say the same, that reﬂect the beautiful
dream of a German poet seeking his South? Thus it is that between the light of reason imagined by Maragall
and the lemon trees dreamt by Goethe, a tension is forged that can explain a great deal. We are living on a
continent made up of contrasts and differences, but this capacity to move from north to south and south to
north, in a never-ending ﬂow, is precisely what has made European culture so rich.
Walter Benjamin died shortly after crossing the French border occupied by the Nazis in the small Catalan town
of Portbou. His tomb can also be found above a cliff, looking out over the sea. Indeed, this philosopher was
able to explain, better than any other, how we live in a fragmented world. This is why history can no longer be
understood as an unbroken line of causes and effects, of deﬁnitive answers: the past is a compendium of events
that always have to be reconsidered, again and again.
Simona Škrabec (Ljubljana, 1968) is a writer and translator. She focuses on the study of European
literature of the XX century and the relationship between literary works and the formation of identity and
memory of the past. She is the author of the books L’estirp de la solitud (2002) on the sense of tragedy in
short narrative works of the XX century and L’atzar de la lluita (2005) on the concept of Central Europe. She
coordinated with Arnau Pons Carrers de frontera (2008-2009), a comprehensive study on the relationship
between German and Catalan cultures. She has translated books by Jesús Moncada, Jaume Cabré, Gabriel
Ferrater and Maria Mercè Marçal into Slovenian, and into Catalan authors like Drago Jančar, Danilo Kiš,
Boris Pahor o Aleš Debeljak, among others. She is the editor of the digital magazine Visat, published by the
Catalan PEN, devoted to literary translation. She is also a member of the InTransit Editorial Board.
Photo by Margaret Luppino
Translated from Catalan by Margaret Luppino
Informationen Über Katalonien - Jocs Florals de la Llengua Catalana - Tübingen 1970
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
If in the preceding pages our Catalan friends presented the relations
between Germany and Catalonia in the kindest possible way –and
above all from an academic standpoint—nonetheless we cannot
forget that there was also an inhumane side to these relations. We
all know just how much the German military forces contributed
to the destruction of Catalonia between 1936 and 1939 and it is
also well known that no fewer than 3,000 Catalans died in the
concentration camps of the Third Reich.
That is to say, alongside the testimonies of the researchers and
scholars who have lovingly devoted themselves to the Catalan
culture and language –a good example would be the letters
of philologist Bernhard Schädel that we have included in this
volume—we should also have included reports, diaries or memoirs
written by soldiers or even a war criminal.
But why didn’t we? Because a perverse effect of that ideology, of
those warped plans for destruction and division, is that within that
way of thinking all differences between the victims disappear –
there is no difference between a Marxist and an Anarchist, between
an Atheist and a Catholic, between a Pole and a German, nor is
there any difference between Catalans and Castilians.
With this publication we wanted to contribute to supporting the
right to think based on such “differences,” at least in part.
Nonetheless, some questions remain:
What was the real spirit that fueled the repression of the Catalans during Franco’s regime?
What degree of terror was reached in a regime that was capable of denying a third of the country’s population
—here we also include the Basques and the Galicians— the most important instrument of self-identiﬁcation,
their mother tongue?
And what is it in general that drives all social systems –objectively and subjectively—to exclude whole groups
and lower them to the level of outcasts?
These are questions that without a doubt do not just apply to the situation in Spain, but are equally relevant for
the current circumstances in Germany. It is enough to think of the immigrant workers.
If my theory is correct and if the degree of humanity in a social system is measured by how its minorities are
treated —minorities in any sense of the word—then the question I have just asked also rather uncomfortably
affects the citizens of the German Federal Republic.
Extracted from: Lüdke, Jens; Pous, Antoni (eds.), Informationen über Katalonien. Geschichte. Sprache.
Literatur. Tübingen: Catalan Lectorate of the Seminar of Romance Studies at the University of Tübingen,
1970, p. 75-76. Publication edited on the occasion of the Jocs Florals of the Catalan Language that were held
at the University of Tübingen (Germany) on October 25th, 1970.
Translated from German to Catalan by Simona Škrabec
Translated from Catalan to English by Margaret Luppino
seven communities, one language
Traces of Catalan Theater in Germany
Carrers de Frontera - Grenzen sind Straßen
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
In 1984 I arrived in Munich, and thanks to a generous grant from
the Goethe-Institute, the German Foreign Affairs Ministry and the
International Theater Institute, I began to work in the Münchner
Kammerspiele (which was where Bertolt Brecht began his theater career).
Among the German intellectuals I met there that year –such as George
Tabori, Thomas Bernhard, Herbert Achternbusch, Heiner Müller, Bernd
Wilms, Bruno Ganz, Hanna Schygulla and many others— no one, or
hardly anyone, had ever heard of Catalan theater. The lack of awareness
about our theater was so great that throughout the nearly three years
I acted in the Greek Army, torturing and mistreating Les troianes [the
Trojans] of Èsquil, in the version by Walter Jens and George Tabori, my
cries onstage, in ﬂawless Catalan, were thought to be an archaic Greek
or some truly exotic tongue, incomprehensible and a product of Tabori’s
genious as a stage director. This does not mean that the people of Catalan
theater who had worked in theater in the German language before me
—whether in Austria, Switzerland or the two Germanies, men of theater
such as the master Ricard Salvat, among others— had not left a mark.
But in the ocean of German-speaking theater, with over one hundred
and ﬁfteen national and municipal theaters and their respective premieres that ranged from ﬁve to twelve
each year —more or less one thousand to one thousand two hundred premieres each season, in addition to the
numerous smaller subsidized theaters— the traces of a few Catalan pioneers were practically imperceptible,
but nonetheless, they did leave behind strong ties of friendship and opened channels of interest.
In all the years that I worked as a stage director, putting on a dozen plays throughout the German-speaking
lands, I never had the opportunity to work with a play by an author who wrote in Catalan. Aside from an
attempt to bring to the stage a selection of pieces by Joan Brossa in the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, a few meters
away from the Berlin wall, between 1985 and 1986, the closest I came was in 1994 when for the ﬁrst time in
Austria the Kleines Theater of Saltzburg brought to the stage the work ¡Ay, Carmela! (which had premiered in
Germany a couple of years previously, in the Berliner Ensemble), the work of a man with close ties to modern
Catalan theater and who had promoted it enormously through his Teatro Fronterizo and the Sala Beckett of
Barcelona: José Sanchís Sinisterra. I mention him because while I was getting to know contemporary German
theater, little by little the rising star –or better put, the tip of the iceberg of Catalan text theater and someone
who started out as part of the Sala Beckett group— began to appear: Sergi Belbel, an author I will talk more
about later on.
At the same time, throughout the 1990s the Catalan theater groups Comediants, Els Joglars and, above all, La
Fura dels Baus, were at the forefront of Catalan theater, recognized and admired by a public made up mostly of
young people. The shows by La Fura in Berlin, in the Tempodrom tents close to the Reichstag, were something
people looked forward to year after year, receiving excellent reviews and almost always packed. Their trademark
aesthetic that overﬂowed with energy, which in Germany was often called “Theater der Gewalt” (‘theater of
violence’), meshed perfectly with a Berlin destroyed by a war that was distant yet still present, a Berlin broken
in two by another war of cement and networks of barbed wire that had turned cold yet still smoldered, and
an alternative Berlin of a breathtaking clash of creative forces that had set off the shockwaves that caused the
wall to fall and that are still reverberating today. Many theater groups, directors such as Franz Castorf and
plastic artists allowed themselves to be inﬂuenced directly or indirectly by this group from Moià, so quirky and
provocative, and of such a mysterious name. And not just the artists, but the German automobile industry as
well; Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen hired La Fura to promote their products. What more could you ask for?
For the Germans it was a completely new form of theatrical expression, because being able to connect La Fura
or Comediants with the tradition of urban or medieval street theater, with the dances of death, with the Patum
– all of this was practically impossible in Germany, or at most it was the work of ethnologists. Similar popular
theatrical manifestations had disappeared centuries ago from the colletive consciousness of Central Europe,
and the only traces left can be found in the Carnival festivals, or in the Fastnacht of Basel, in the Swiss Alps, or
the German Fasnet, all very distant.
If we speak of visual theater with music and movement, I must mention [the choreographer and dancer] Cesc
Gelabert, who was closely connected to the German tradition of “Ausdruckstanz.” Since the performance that
he put on in the Akademie der Künste in Berlin in 1985, he has regularly participated in the TanzWerkstatt
(‘Dance Workshop’) of the Hebbel-Theater, in the Komische Oper and, of course, in the dance festivals of the
Akademie der Künste since 1988, both with the Gelabert-Azzopardi Companyia de Dansa as well as on his own.
For his interest in work as a choreographer he was awarded with a grant from the Deutscher Akademischer
Austausch Dienst (DAAD) in 1992. He is admired for his work not only in Berlin, but also in Leipzig (1998),
Dresden (2003), Munich (2006) and many other places.
seven communities, one language
Obviously it is impossible for me to review all of the appearences, “bolos” [informal performances in little
towns], of the numerous Catalan groups and companies that have preformed over the last twenty-ﬁve years
in German-speaking lands, not even those I have already mentioned, but I do wish to point out how quickly
Catalan theater and culture have been gaining recognition in the German theater setting and among Central
Europeans. This has not just been due to the efforts of the institutions but above all thanks to individuals
with very different interests who enthusiastically dedicated themselves to spreading the word about Catalan
theater. And they did so above all because they felt that certain works written or created in Catalonia would
interest the German public. Translating a work involves distancing it from it cultural context and introducing
it into another, whether we like it or not, even though we can express it the other way around too. To put it
even more plainly: a Catalan theater text, for it to be preformed in Germany someday, will be perceived as
a German theater work translated from Catalan. Your everyday Bavarian, Saxonian, Swabian, or Prussian
will not distinguish (if it isn’t explicitly made known) the “Catalan-ness” of the text they are watching and
listening to in “High German” or “German of the Bible,” the language that has been used onstage for centuries.
In other words, I don’t think that the theater public of the work Mar i cel, by Àngel Guimerà / Xavier Bru de
Sala, translated and staged by Hartmut H. Forche in the Opernhaus de Halle in March of 2007, understood
it as a classic of Catalan theater, disguised in the form of a musical. Instead, they must have seen reﬂected in
it the conﬂict that they are experiencing –in Halle and elsewhere—between the German European Christian
culture and the Turkish Eastern Muslim culture. Just like when we see Romeo and Juliet in Catalan, we don’t
think about English culture, no matter that Shakespeare wrote it, but instead we allow ourselves to be directly
transported to Italy or the conﬂicts between the important families of our lands or the tragedies of forbidden
loves. The same universal nature of translated dramatic works often blurs the particularities of their origins.
This is why the efforts of those German intellectuals, researchers and professionals who have been introducing
Catalan theater to their country are even more worthy of praise. One example is Wolfgang Schuch, the former
director —now retired— of the publishing house Henschel Schauspiel, which during the dark times of the
German Democratic Republic translated and published Meridians i paral·lels by Jaume Melendres, despite
the risk that it might never premiere on stage. As he explained to me, a German director who worked in
Barcelona had spoken to him of a very interesting young author who had just presented a work, Tàlem; he
got in touch with this author and obtained a copy of his new work, Carícies. The young author was none other
than Sergi Belbel. At the start of the 1990s he was invited to give talks about his theater pieces in the Deutsches
Theater and the Literaturhaus Berlin. Despite this, it took the publishing house, which also acts as an agent,
two years to get a theater to be interested in putting on the works of Belbel, even though Klaus Laabs had
already translated them for the Henschel publishing house.
On March 25th, 1995, Carícies debuted at the Münchner Kammerspiele, where I had also started my German
adventures. The piece was well received, but speaking with the actors I came to realize –and it was later
conﬁrmed—that they had been enthusiastic about the text, which had allowed them great creative freedom
when it came to the acting; the public and the critics, in exchange, did not feel this same enthusiasm, although in
general we could speak of success for the ﬁrst of what will now have been seven mises en scène of Liebkosungen.
Not long after that, on November 17th of the same year, the Schauspielhaus of Hamburg put on Després de
la pluja (“Nach dem Regen”), also in translation by Klaus Laabs, the ﬁrst big success of Belbel in a German-
speaking context. Thirty-seven mises en scène in different theaters can give us a feel for how extremely well-
Tàlem premiered, which in the translation of Klaus Laabs was given the title of Spielweise, zwei im Quadrat.
The ﬁrst time it was brought to the stage in Switzerland was six months later in Basel at the hand of the Catalan
director and translator Maurici Farré; to this date there have been seven different productions of this work
in German. On September 18th, 1998, En companyia d’abisme (“In Gesellschaft von Abgrund”) opened at
the Theater Bielefeld together with the short piece L’ajudant, of which two productions were made. But four
months prior to this, on May 30th, 1998, the state theater of Dresden (Staatsschauspiel Dresden) produced
what would be Belbel’s second great success in Germany: the translator, almost a specialist of Belbel at this
point, gave it the German title of Ein Augenblick vor dem Sterben, the original in Catalan is Morir. Thanks to
the thirty-two productions of this work, Sergi Belbel became known throughout Germany-speaking territory
as a theater author, and Catalan theater at last began to make a name for itself within the Central European
contemporary theater scene. Since the start of the new millenium we have witnessed the premieres of Sang
(Mannheim, 2000), with ﬁve different stagings; El temps de Planck (Frankfurt, 2002), with four different
stagings; Forasters (Leipzig, 2006), with an excellent title in German, Wildfremde, by Klaus Laabs, and the
new and highly popular comedy, Mòbil (Hannover, 2006), of which eleven different stagings have already been
produced. Even though the staging of it at the Deutsches Theater, in Berlin, was highly unpopular, there are
others, like that of Hans Otto Theater, in Potsdam, that have been a complete success. A few months ago, at
the end of 2007, the publishing house Henschel Schauspiel even released a book with three works by Belbel.
Wolfgang Schuch’s dedication has borne fruit: Klaus Laabs, who was the Spanish and French translator, at the
age of nearly ﬁfty chose to learn Catalan so that he could translate Belbel directly.
And now it is time for others to join Belbel. Josep Benet i Jornet has ﬁve works translated into German, also by
Klaus Laabs. Three of these have been brought to the stage: Desig (Bonn, 1977), which was staged four times;
Testament (Constance, 2000), which opened in Constance, and Això, a un ﬁll, no se li fa (Graz, 2002), Slips
in German, which was staged three times. The publishing house Merlin has translated four works by Carles
Batlle, and they have edited the work Trànsit together with an interview of the author. Versuchung opened in
German at the Burgtheater, in Vienna, on December 3rd 2004, and I know of a mise en scènce of this work in
Tübingen (2005) and Krefeld (2007). El mètode Grönholm, by Jordi Galceran, is another success: more than
ﬁfteen stagings since its ﬁrst opening conﬁrm this, and if I’m not mistaken, today it is being preformed in three
German theaters simultaneously.
New Catalan drama is consolidating itself in German-speaking countries, without a doubt. Many years have
passed since my exotic-sounding cries on the stage of the Münchner Kammerspiele, and today —after the many
avatars of Catalan theater people in Germany, the always meager help offered by the institutions for possible
translations of drammatic works, the Olympic Games of 1992 and the Frankfurt Book Fair of 2007— there are
few, very few intellectuals or regular German citizens with a passing interest in the arts who know nothing
about Catalan culture and Catalan theater.
Translated from Catalan by Margaret Luppino
Catalan Studies in Germany
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
Germans have always had a longing for the South. Our Germanic
ancestors invaded the countries of the Mediterranean in the ﬁfth century.
Charlemagne, three centuries later, expanded his area of interest down
to the Catalan regions near Barcelona. In the 15th century the German-
Tyrolese polyglot troubadour Oswald von Wolkenstein, in a song dating
from 1416, shows that he is proud of singing and speaking Catalan,
among other languages. He manages to work several times with Catalan
rhyme words making them rhyme with German words, for instance
«racaides» (modern Catalan: arracades, earrings) with German «tuen
dir die ring nicht laides» (don’t they hurt you). Quite a polyglot poet! He
takes for granted that one has to know Catalan when one moves about
the Catalan-Aragonese Empire, which was at that time one of the most
powerful of the Mediterranean.
their Catalan colleagues in the South. So the German printer Johann Rosenbach, from Heidelberg, had such
a dictionary printed in Perpinyà in 1502 that provided the German-Catalan or Catalan-German equivalents.
In 1991 I published a facsimile edition of this precious document, of which only one copy exists in the Catalan
National Library, just in time for the celebration of 490 years of German-Catalan lexical interrelationship at
the Barcelona Olympic Games of 1992. Rosenbach thus represents one of the German printers who introduced
this new printing technique to the Catalan-Aragonese Crown.
The classic and Mediterranean interests of our most illustrious Frankfurter, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, born
here in 1749, were directed across the Alps to the «Land, wo die Zitronen blühn», the land where the lemon
trees bloom, which was not a reference to the cítrics (citrus –above all, orange— trees) of the País Valencià
(Valencia), but to the lemon trees of Italy. The quotation is part of the title of a poem that Goethe wrote in
1783. A year before, in 1782, J. C. C. Rüdiger had published his Grundriss einer Geschichte der menschlichen
Sprache nach allen bekannten Mund- und Schriftarten (A survey of the history of human speech based on all
known oral and written languages) which said of Catalan: «Aragonese differs a bit from the provincial dialects,
Valencian does so a bit more, but Catalan differs the most.»  It seems that Rüdiger correctly grasps the
individuality of Catalan, but hasn’t yet made up his mind whether or not to grant the status of language to an
idiom that does not have a state of its own. Germans were nevertheless impressed by the Catalan countries. The
description of Montserrat as a symbol of peace of mind and reconnection with our inner selves, which Wilhelm
von Humboldt sends to Goethe in 1800, is echoed in Goethe’s epic fragment Die Geheimnisse (1816) and in
Faust II (1832). And the poem «Montserrat» is commented by Goethe and Schiller in their correspondence.
Catalan Studies in Germany
But the foundations of what we call Catalan Studies (catalanística) today can be traced back to right after
Goethe’s death in 1832 with the development of German Romance Language Studies, which followed the
model of Germanic Language Studies founded by Jacob Grimm (1785-1863). Without the linguistic research
that Prof. Grimm began publishing in 1819 in his Deutsche Grammatik – which in reality is a comparative
historical grammar of the Germanic languages – the subsequent development of Romance Language Studies
wouldn’t have been possible. So it is not surprising that Germany turned into something akin to a nest for this
science. What is remarkable, though, is that German universities continue to be the one place in academia
where Romance language studies enjoy the highest level of cohesiveness. A good number of these German
universities still have institutes of romance philology or romance languages, where those of us dedicated to
these languages can work together. This is a great advantage for Catalan, as I will go on to explain, and it can
help us understand why we have had seen on average some thirty German, Austrian and Swiss universities
offering Catalan over the last few decades – more than any other academic system in the world, and much
more than in Spain. (You can see the academic offerings of Catalan and Catalan Studies of the last 25 years in
the annual account of the Zeitschrift für Katalanistik – Catalan Studies Review – which I founded in 1988).
In the second third of the 19th century the ﬁeld of Romance Studies was founded by Friedrich Diez (1794-
1876), who began publishing in 1836 (and continued until 1842) his Grammatik der Romanischen Sprachen
– Grammar of the Romance Languages. In the second edition of this work (Bonn, 1856), the Catalan language
makes its entry as a language in the scientiﬁc ﬁeld of German philologists. Let us take a look at this striking
quotation (p. 112-113):
Die catalanische Sprache (denn so dürfte man nach der zunächst liegenden Provinz die über den
spanischen Osten und die Inseln so wie über die franz. Landschaft Roussillon verbreitete nennen) steht
zur provenzalischen nicht eigentlich im Verhältnis einer Mundart: sie ist vielmehr ein selbständiges
mit ihr zunächst verwandtes Idiom.
Tilbert Dídac Stegmann
seven communities, one language
In English: «The Catalan language – as we can call the language according to the name of the province in the
Spanish east where it is spoken, and which extends over the islands and the French Roussillon region– is really
not a dialect of Provençal [i. e. Occitan]: Catalan is, on the contrary, a separate language, though related in the
Prof. Diez states clearly that Catalan is spoken in the Balearic Islands and in the Roussillon as well as in the
whole east of the Peninsula. In continuation he mentions, that Catalan has been used for prose texts since the
13th century. He also acknowledges that in the País Valencià people speak Catalan and that there is just a small
difference in pronunciation. 
We can say, therefore, that starting with the second edition of Diez’s Grammatik the individuality of the
catalanische Sprache is clear. There is a certain contradiction in an earlier sentence on page 104, where Diez
extends the designation «provenzalisches Idiom» to Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands and mentions
the common denomination used by the Catalans themselves of llemosí, but I interpret this as a remnant of
the ﬁrst edition, when Diez still was hesitating about the point. Just a page later (always following the 2nd
edition) he differentiates clearly between the Provençal and the Catalan-Valencian idiom. And later on in
Diez’s work (for instance on page 96 of the 2nd volume), he gives Catalan the clear designation of catalanische
Sprache even if Catalan is just treated as an addition to the other languages.
At any rate, what is clear is that the comprehensive perspective of German Romance Studies, inherited from
Germanic Studies, was what allowed Catalan to be present from the beginning of Romance Studies: every
romance language was a precious document for detecting how popular or vulgar Latin had evolved differently
in each territory. Even the languages that didn’t have a state of their own were important. The more languages
that were included, the more scientiﬁcally the laws of phonetic shift —which Jacob Grimm had already
established for the Germanic languages— could be documented.
With regard to Catalan literature, German philologists dedicated themselves unequivocally to Catalan as an
individual language. In 1842, Karl Lanz published the wonderful 14th century Crònica of Ramon Muntaner
(translated into German) in two volumes, in Leipzig. Then in 1844, in Stuttgart, at the Literarischer Verein, the
Catalan text of the edition of València of 1558 was presented with close to six hundred pages. I am sure that it
was the study of this long medieval Catalan text that convinced Diez about the individual personality of Catalan
and which accounts for the changes to the 2nd edition of his Grammatik (We should recall that he ﬁnished his
ﬁrst edition in 1842). The other works that demonstrated the importance of Catalan literature and language
were: Adolf Helfferich, Raymund Lull und die Anfänge der catalanischen Literatur (Berlin, Julius Springer,
1858); Eberhard Vogel, Neucatalanische Studien (Paderborn, 1886), and, especially, the impressive work of 540
pages by Viktor M. O. Denk, published in Munich in 1893, Einführung in die Geschichte der altcatalanischen
Litteratur von deren Anfängen bis zum 18. Jahrhundert (Introduction to old Catalan literature from the
beginnings until the 18th century). Three years before, Johannes Fastenrath, from Cologne, an enthusiast
of the Catalan Jocs Florals, had published an extensive anthology of 570 pages with more than 200 Catalan
poems and with the title Catalanische Trobadoure der Gegenwart (Contemporary Catalan poets, Leipzig, Carl
Reissner, 1890). The 70 introductory pages by themselves already represent a history of Catalan literature. In
the ethnographic ﬁeld we must not forget to mention the Archduke Ludwig Salvator, s’Arxiduc as they called
him in Mallorca. With his magniﬁcent work Die Balearen: In Wort und Bild geschildert (published between
1869 and 1891 by Brockhaus in Leipzig) in seven huge volumes illustrated in colour, he showed himself to be
a very important exponent of the Austrian dedication to one of the Catalan countries. He himself also edited
translations of Majorcan fairy-tales into German and even published his own tales written in Catalan (Somnis
d’estiu ran de mar, 1912; Summer dreams at the sea-coast).
The Grundriss of Gustav Gröber
In 1888, twelve years after Diez’s death, the ﬁrst collective work of German and European Romance Studies
appears, organized by the university of Strasbourg (at that time on German territory) and its Romanist Prof.
Gustav Gröber (1844-1911), the Grundriss der Romanischen Philologie (Strasbourg, Karl J. Trübner), a
compendium and opus magnum in which the Alsatian Romanist Alfred Morel-Fatio dedicated an article of
20 pages, written in German, to «Das Catalanische» (p. 669-688), in the section «Romanische Sprachen». On
page 671 he dedicates part of a chapter to the «Entwicklung der catalanischen Sprache», thus clearly speaking
about the Catalan language. At page 669 he even mentions the Catalan spoken in Cuba and Argentina, and
points out that the Catalan there «maintains its independence with regard to Spanish». In the 2nd edition
of the Grundriss (1904-1906), we ﬁnd Morel-Fatio’s article on Catalan nearly doubled in size by the Lorrain
Romanist Jean-Joseph Saroïhandy (p. 841-877), a fact that shows a rising interest in Catalan. Gröber himself,
already in his long introductory study in the ﬁrst edition of the Grundriss, differentiates clearly between the
Catalan language and Spanish and Occitan. Gröber’s compendium was an unquestioned authority on Romance
Studies. Other Romanistic manuals, such as the Handbuch der romanischen Philologie, by Gustav Körting
(Leipzig, Reisland, 1896), also clearly differentiate Catalan from Occitan and other languages (see the pages
605, 608 and 639-640 for instance).
But one important Swiss Romanist didn’t agree (and some others with him): Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke (1861-
1936), who published his Grammatik der romanischen Sprachen between 1890 and 1902. He maintained
the hypothesis that Catalan was an offshoot of Occitan. This was quite different from the conclusions of
Diez and Gröber, as we have seen. But in 1923 Meyer-Lübke moved in Alforja (near Tarragona) with his
family and thus got to know Catalonia better, which is what seems to have brought him to take up Gröber’s
position. He would go on to dedicate an entire book to Catalan, published in Heidelberg (at the Carl Winter
Universitätsbuchhandlung, in 1925) with the title Das Katalanische: Seine Stellung zum Spanischen und
Provenzalischen, sprachwissenschaftlich und historisch dargestellt (Catalan: its position to Spanish and
Occitan, described linguistically and historically). The book was in some ways an apology to the scientiﬁc
community and to the Catalans for not having researched Catalan more thoroughly before. But doubts persisted
about whether he really gave Occitan and Catalan the same weight as two languages that had developed out
of vulgar Latin at the same time. In 1931 the author of the enormous ten volume Catalan dictionary, Francesc
de Borja Moll, wrote an exhaustive Catalan supplement to Meyer-Lübkes lexical work, «Suplement català
al Romanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch de Meyer-Lübke», so that the 3rd edition of Meyer-Lübke’s
dictionary, in 1935, could be more balanced with regard to Catalan.
Going back to the beginnings of the 20th century we come across a young German Romanist named Bernhard
Schädel (1878-1926), born in Giessen, which is slightly north of Frankfurt. Schädel arrived in Mallorca around
the year 1903 on his voyage through several Romanic countries and came into contact with Antoni Maria
Alcover who was preparing the aforementioned Catalan language dictionary, which Francesc de B. Moll would
go on to complete after Alcover’s death. Alcover appreciates Schädel’s excellent professional preparation in
Romance Studies (Schädel had studied with Gröber) and especially in phonetics, and a year later Schädel goes
on to publish Untersuchungen zur katalanischen Lautentwicklung (Investigations on the phonetic evolution of
Catalan; Halle, 1904). In the autumn of 1904 Schädel offers a Catalan seminar at his University of Halle, which
is said to be the ﬁrst of its kind in Germany. He repeats the seminar the next year. In the summer of 1906 he
and Alcover undertake a philological six-week excursion across the Pyrenees, which is documented in Alcover’s
famous Dietari. During this excursion they also meet Saroïhandy, who contributed to Gröber’s Grundriss
published that same year, as already mentioned. And in October 1906, at the First International Congress of
the Catalan Language in Barcelona, Alcover ends up presenting Schädel’s contribution «Über die Zukunft
der katalanischen Sprachstudien» (About the future of Catalan language studies), as Schädel has had to return
to Germany, his mother having fallen gravely ill. The contents of this text are further developed by Schädel in a
later text that Alcover publishes in Catalan in the Bolletí del Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana (núm. 4 ,
p. 24-30), with the title «Memorandum sobre la necessitat de promoció de la ﬁlologia nacional catalana y
els medis am qu’es pot obtenir y el fruit que’n sortirà» (Memorandum about the necessity of promoting the
national Catalan philology and the means by which it can be obtained and the fruits it will yield). Schädel
made very detailed propositions and instructions for the future of Catalan philology that Alcover then put
into practice. This clearly shows the importance of German Romance Studies for the development of Catalan
Studies, and Schädel clearly illustrates this. Even the founding that same year of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans,
the Institute of Catalan Studies, had been proposed by Schädel. In 1908 three Catalan scholars, Manuel de
Montoliu, Pere Barnils and Antoni Griera, accepted Schädel’s invitation to study at his University of Halle for
six terms, which turned out to be very proﬁtable for the Catalans, yet they ended in disagreement with Schädel
and the relationship took quite a few years to heal.
From 1903 to 1908 Schädel published Kritischer Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der Romanischen
Philologie, which included fascinating summaries of new publications in the ﬁeld of Catalan language and
literature. Throughout this period he would even go on to publish articles about Catalan in newspapers and
reviews. In 1908 he publishes his Manual de fonètica catalana (in Cöthen, Otto Schulze) in Catalan (!),
which Alcover uses from then on as a fundamental tool for the phonetic transcriptions of his dictionary. In
1909 Schädel publishes a long article, «Die katalanischen Pyrenäendialekte», in his new review Revue de
Dialectologie Romane, but starting in 1911 his interest in Catalan themes starts to wane when he is made
professor at Hamburg University and dedicates himself to studying the whole of Spain and of South America.
There is only one more Catalanistic article of his that Alcover publishes in 1921: «Redaktionelles Schema für
das Diccionari» (Editorial scheme for the Diccionari), yet another example of his role as an advisor. In 1921
he introduces the young Francesc de B. Moll to a course in phonetics and dialectology in Mallorca – valuable
knowledge for putting together the Diccionari.
Another Catalanist of the early 20th century is Eberhard Vogel (1861-1934), previously cited as the author of the
doctoral dissertation Neucatalanische Studien from 1886, who between 1909 and 1920 publishes (translated
into German) several contemporary novels by Prudenci Bertrana, Raimon Casellas, Víctor Català and Josep
Pous i Pagès, and who edits, in 1911, the ﬁrst modern Catalan-German dictionary: Taschenwörterbuch der
katalanischen und deutschen Sprache = Diccionari portàtil de les llengues catalana y alemanya (Berlin,
Langenscheidt); the German-Catalan part appears in 1916. This is an important lexicographic moment in the
relationship between these two languages.
Characteristics of Romance Studies in Germany
I should make a general observation about German Romanists to put into perspective the positive consequences
of the comprehensive Romanistic vision that I had pointed out at the start of this article. Schädel is a typical
example, and this is still how things work today: after candidates go through the selection process, professors
are frequently offered a chair or a professorship of Romance Philology either in the ﬁeld of linguistics or in
literature. In the case of the literature specialists their chairs are ascribed –and limited– to speciﬁc languages
(French and Italian, or Spanish and Portuguese, are common). But when it comes to linguists it was —and still
is— customary for them to cover a much wider range of Romance languages. Once the professor is nominated
to a chair, she has a certain amount of liberty to offer any subject that enters in the general study plan and that
can include in her courses, mainly through her own decision, languages like Catalan, Romanian, Portuguese (if
it wasn’t already being offered), Occitan, and even Sardinian, Retoromanic or any other language she wishes,
with their accompanying literatures, if she can motivate students to enter these ﬁelds with her. This represents
the Humboldt ideal of the unity of investigation and teaching. But this freedom also has a disadvantage: if a
professor chooses to stop researching that particular ﬁeld and language, then it disappears from that university
if there is no colleague to take over the subject. In the case of Schädel at the University of Hamburg, he was
hired to focus primarily on Spanish and South America and no one required him to continue with Catalan.
Thus, if I stated at the beginning of this article that an average of thirty German-speaking universities offer
Catalan Studies or Catalan courses, we must be aware that their continuity rests on two pillars: on the one
hand, the interest —or at least the willingness— of the professors teaching at that university, and on the other
hand, the Catalan lectorates that are ﬁnanced almost entirely by the Institut Ramon Llull in Catalonia. The
institutionalization of these lectorates is a determining factor for the continuity of Catalan Studies.
What’s more: if we want to critically analyse the academic offering of Catalan Studies today, we have to admit
that at the majority of German universities the lecturers are the only ones actually teaching these courses. There
are only a handful of universities where full professors are the ones teaching these classes: the universities in
Berlin (sometimes at the Freie Universität, sometimes at Humboldt Universität), Bochum, Frankfurt, Freiburg,
Hamburg, Leipzig, Tübingen and Vienna. The disadvantage of this is that at all the other universities students
of Catalan Studies don’t have a professor who can examine them directly on their subject. It is up to the students
to ﬁnd a professor of Romance Studies willing accept a Catalan theme for their ﬁnal academic work or their
thesis, and fortunately they are able to quite often, as we will see later on.
Coming back to Schädel, who started working in Hamburg in 1911, one must specify that he assembled a good
team of collaborators who continued to work in the Catalan ﬁeld while he was there. Fritz Krüger, who had
come with Schädel from Halle and became his successor in 1926, is author of Die Hochpyrenäen (The High
Pyrenees), published in three volumes from 1935 to 1939. In 1923 Rudolf Grossmann publishes a new and
comprehensive anthology of Catalan poetry, Katalanische Lyrik der Gegenwart, and Wilhelm Giese publishes
studies of the important 14th century Catalan chronicles, which Diez had studied previously. Grossmann and
Giese were still at Hamburg University in 1961 when I started studying with them. I also had the chance to get to
know the Spanish lecturer from València, Josep Maria Navarro, who offered a course on Ramon Llull in which
I participated and who motivated me to join him and take part in the II Col·loqui Internacional de Llengua i
Literatura Catalanes, in 1970, in Amsterdam. That congress was my initiation into Catalan matters. In a certain
way I might consider myself as a part of the Hamburg group, in addition to Leo Spitzer, who published works
about Catalan lexicography. In 1985 Catalan linguistics at Hamburg have been further safeguarded by Conxita
Lleó, whose chair was explicitly destined to Catalan and Spanish linguistics. The Ibero-American sections of
the University’s libraries are excellent regarding Catalan matters.
Another key focus point of Catalan Studies in Germany was the University of Freiburg (Freiburg im Breisgau),
where the most important centre of historians of the Catalan-Aragonese Crown developed, headed by Prof.
Heinrich Finke (1855-1938), who published, between 1908 and 1922, the Acta Aragonensia. His predecessors
in Germany were Ernst Alexander Schmidt, author of the Geschichte Aragonien’s im Mittelalter (Medieval
History of Aragon), published in Leipzig in 1828, and Georg Gottfried Gervinus, author of the work Versuch
einer inneren Geschichte von Aragonien bis zum Ausgang des Barcelonesischen Königsstammes, published
in Frankfurt in 1833. As we may recall, these years also coincided with the beginnings of Romance Studies
dedicated to Catalan. Finke encouraged many of his students to work and publish on Catalan-Aragonese
subjects. The most important of these students was Johannes Vincke (1892-1975), also Professor at Freiburg.
Today the young investigator of the Catalan-Aragonese Crown, Nikolas Jaspert, from the University of Bochum,
has published a detailed bibliography of German historians who dedicated themselves to studying Catalan
At the same University of Freiburg, the theologian and philosopher Friedrich Stegmüller founded, in 1957, the
Raimundus-Lullus-Institut in the Faculty of Theology. This Institute has been dedicated to publishing all of
Ramon Llull’s Latin books and lately even Llull’s Catalan texts. We should point out that north of Freiburg,
the Badische Landesbibliothek of Karlsruhe preserves the most valuable Catalan manuscript in Germany. It is
the Breviculum by Ramon Llull, from 1321, which is an autobiography of sorts, magniﬁcently illustrated, and
partly a comic book avant la lettre, with images that show Llull himself, and with incredibly well conserved
Near Freiburg, in Basel, in 1967 Prof. Germà Colon created an important centre of Catalan Studies that existed
for thirty years, where he formed scholars like Curt Wittlin, Gret Schib, Rolf Eberenz, Michael Metzeltin and
Pere Ramírez-Molas, who later would go on to occupy important university chairs.
My own Catalan career started, as I mentioned, with my participation in the International Congress of
Amsterdam in 1970. That is when I started to learn Catalan (I was 29 years old), a language that I hadn’t learned
despite being born in Barcelona where my father had been Director of the German School. I frequently went to
stay in the Empordà and Barcelona with Ramon Aramon i Serra, the Secretary General of the Catalan Academy
(Institut d’Estudis Catalans), and his family, which was half German. In 1974 I published all the Catalan texts
written by Dalí, translated into German. I was then assistant professor at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg,
where Prof. Heinrich Kuen, Rector of the University during a certain period, had published a magniﬁcent
grammar of Alguerese Catalan in Sardinia.
Setmanes Catalanes a Berlin
In 1976 I was nominated professor at the Freie Universität of Berlin, and in 1978 I convinced the Senate of
Berlin that they should dedicate the Berlin Summer Festival of that year to Catalan culture, which had only
recently escaped from the dreadful oppression of the dictatorship. These Catalan weeks turned out to be the
most exhaustive international presentation of Catalan culture and of the reality of Catalonia that had ever been
attempted. There were around a hundred activities and expositions of every kind, many of an academic nature
with numerous presentations of Catalan literature and Catalan authors in addition to a Catalan sociolinguistics
Some of my books from that period were consequences of that festival in Berlin, such as my bilingual anthology
of the Catalan Nova Cançó or an anthology of the Catalan poetry of the 20th century, also bilingual, to which
Antoni Tàpies contributed the pictorial part. Or even the book the editor Josep Maria Espinàs asked me to
write, Catalunya vista per un alemany (Catalonia as seen by a German), which to my surprise turned into a
best-seller and arrived at thirteen editions.
In 1981 I was appointed professor at the University of Frankfurt, where I had as a colleague the linguist Prof.
Brigitte Schlieben-Lange, who had written her doctoral thesis on the Catalan (and Occitan) verbal system. I
worked closely with her during the years that she was in Frankfurt (until 1991) and we had the ideal situation
of having a Catalan linguist and a Catalan literature professor at the same university. At Frankfurt I founded
the Biblioteca Catalana that nowadays has thirty-ﬁve thousand volumes, and is the biggest library in the world
outside Catalonia that is exclusively dedicated to Catalan books and Catalan themes. It has been qualiﬁed as
one of the seven international treasures of Catalan Cultural Heritage.
In 1983, during the course of a new Catalan festival (Setmanes Catalanes a Karlsruhe), which the land Baden-
Württemberg had agreed to dedicate to Catalan culture, we founded the Deutsch-Katalanische Gesellschaft
(Associació Germano-Catalana, today Deutscher Katalanistenverband), which peaked at 800 members in the
period when I was its president.
Afterwards, in 1988, I founded the Zeitschrift für Katalanistik (Revista d’Estudis Catalans), which has been
published for 25 years now and is still today the organ of German investigations in the Catalan ﬁeld. It publishes
annually the list of all the courses and seminars of Catalan and Catalan Studies offered at German universities.
The same year I founded the Catalan Cultural Ofﬁce in Frankfurt with a grant I had obtained from President
Pujol. It was active until 1995 promoting an enormous number of cultural events, publications and German-
Catalan international infrastructure. We also hosted in Frankfurt the X Col·loqui Internacional de Llengua
i Literatura Catalanes in 1994 with a strong participation from all of the Catalan countries and 15 foreign
Dictionaries and grammars
At the end of the 1970s I helped to reactivate the Diccionari alemany-català project that Lluís C. Batlle had
been working on for several years, directed by Prof. Günther Haensch (who has been maintaining Catalan
at the Universitat d’Augsburg for a long period). With Haensch’s and my collaboration we ﬁnally published
the dictionary in 1981. In 1996 we were able to publish a second edition, corrected and updated, and in 2006,
with the collaboration of Marta Casas and a few others, a third edition came out, which now represents a
fundamental tool for the direct contact between our two cultures at an up to date lexicographic level. The
corresponding other half of the dictionary, Diccionari català-alemany, had come out in 1991 with the thorough
cooperation of Gabriele Woith and the second edition, slightly expanded and updated, came out in 2005.
Let us mention here four basic books introducing German users to Catalan language: the Handbuch des
Katalanischen, by Artur Quintana (Barcelona, Barcino, 4th ed., 1997); Katalanisch: Eine einführende
Sprachbeschreibung, by Jens Lüdtke (Munich, Hueber, 1984); Einführung in die katalanische Sprache, by Karl-
Heinz Röntgen (Bonn, Romanistischer Verlag, 1987), and Praktische Grammatik der katalanischen Sprache,
by Jenny Brumme (Wilhelmsfeld, Gottfried Egert, 1997). To these books we have added a small volume that
invites Europeans who are already ﬂuent in a Romance language to start reading Catalan right away using their
existing Romance competence and employing the EuroCom method: Katalanisch express: Sofort Katalanisch
lesen durch Ihre Brückensprache by T. D. Stegmann and Sebastià Moranta (Aachen, Shaker, 2007).
In 1992 my wife and I published an extensive guide of the Catalan countries in German (560 pages) that
presented for the ﬁrst time in Germany a book with correct Catalan toponymy and introduced the German
public to all the artistic and natural highlights of the territories where Catalan is spoken. Another publication we
made at the Catalan Cultural Ofﬁce in 1992 was a terminological topographic guide: Katalanische Ortsnamen:
Führer des amtlichen Sprachgebrauchs auf den Balearen, in Katalonien und im Land València, which intended
to contribute to correcting the Spanish falsiﬁcation of so many Catalan names perpetrated during the dictatorial
regime. It was hard in many cases to get the well-known German encyclopaedia Brockhaus Enzyklopädie to
agree to ﬁnally normalize the Catalan names and place names.
Catalan theses and academic works
If return to the area of academia it is interesting to see the results of the bibliography “60 years of doctoral
and master theses on Catalan subjects at the German speaking universities (1945-2006)” published on the
Catalan Studies website of the University of Frankfurt (www.kat.cat) and in the Zeitschrift für Katalanistik.
We can deduce from the numbers that the University of Frankfurt is by far the centre where more students
have ﬁnished their academic studies with a thesis on Catalan matters, followed by the University of Vienna
and the universities of Freiburg, Tübingen, Cologne, Basel and Munich. The professors who have had the
most students examined with a Catalan academic work are Georg Kremnitz, Tilbert Stegmann, Germà Colon,
Brigitte Schlieben-Lange and Horst G. Klein.
Up until today there have been more than 250 theses on Catalan themes, 85 % of them from the last 30 years.
The Biblioteca Catalana of Frankfurt
The bibliography of academic theses reveals the size and continuity of Catalan Studies, especially at the
University of Frankfurt. Perhaps the most prominent fact is the existence of the Biblioteca Catalana of Frankfurt,
which makes available to the scientiﬁc community of central Europe thirty-ﬁve thousand books in Catalan
and on Catalan matters. It is the most important library in the world outside the Catalan countries dedicated
exclusively to Catalan themes and freely accessible in a common space. It has been declared one of the seven
international treasures of Catalan Cultural Heritage in the world. I was able to assemble this library mainly
through donations from the last thirty years.
Starting when I was hired as a professor at Frankfurt in 1981 I was in charge of the Forschungsstelle Katalanistik,
in Catalan: Estudi d’Investigació Catalanística, with its high peak of activity in 2007, when the International
Frankfurt Book Fair presented the Catalan Culture as the Guest of Honour. That year we published two
books intended to help the German public become more aware of Catalan facts and perspectives: Kataloniens
Rückkehr nach Europa 1976-2006: Geschichte, Politik, Kultur und Wirtschaft (Berlin, LIT, 2007), with twenty-
two essays from different Catalan and German scholars about the most important aspects of current Catalan
life and culture and with thirteen interviews with prominent Catalan personalities. The other book was
Narrative Neuanfänge: Der katalanische Roman der Gegenwart: Einzelinterpretationen (Berlin, Walter Frey,
2007), with interpretations of seventeen contemporary Catalan novels by scholars from German universities.
Having mentioned Hamburg, Freiburg and Frankfurt as Catalan Studies focal points during certain periods, I
must also mention Tübingen, where the linguist Eugenio Coseriu had institutionalized a Catalan lectorate in
1968 to offer it to the Catalan translator (from German) and poet Antoni Pous, who was originally from Manlleu
(north of Barcelona near Vic). Pous had been in Tübingen since 1964, and was a person of extraordinary
charisma. He stayed in Tübingen until 1971 and did a magniﬁcent job interesting his students and colleagues in
the Catalan language and literature and in Catalan matters in general. Important Catalan Studies Romanists
such as Johannes Hösle, Brigitte Schlieben-Lange, Jens Lüdtke or Georg Kremnitz all came from Tübingen
and had been «won» for Catalan literature and linguistics and sociolinguistics by Pous. The 25th of October
1970, together with Jens Lüdke, he organized the Jocs Florals de la Llengua Catalana (a festival of the Catalan
language) and published a booklet, Informationen über Katalonien, which was a ﬁrst survey of Catalan matters
for the German public.
The ﬁgure of Antoni Pous shows how a single person can become a centre of Catalan projection abroad and
can motivate future professors who will then continue important work in Catalan Studies at their respective
universities. Ricard Torrents, a friend of Pous, and who also studied at Tübingen and later on became rector of
the University of Vic, refers to all these people as the Circle of Tübingen.
Perhaps the most important of these was Brigitte Schlieben-Lange, whom I mentioned as being professor at
Frankfurt from 1974 to 1991 and who then went on to Tübingen. She trains scholars like Johannes Kabatek,
Christine Bierbach, Isabel Zollna, Irmela Neu, Konstanze Jungbluth, Gabriele Berkenbusch or Patrick
Steinkrüger, either in Frankfurt or in Tübingen. Johannes Hösle, who occupied the chair or Romance literatures
at Regensburg, published Catalan poetry and narration anthologies in the 1970s and a short history of modern
Catalan literature in the eighties and was a strong promoter of the work of Miquel Martí i Pol.
Jens Lüdke published the aforementioned Sprachbeschreibung (description of the Catalan language) and was
professor at the University of Bonn, Berlin and ﬁnally, since 1994, at Heidelberg, where Catalan was taught
by quite a few professors. Georg Kremnitz had studied at Tübingen and was ﬁrst teaching at the University of
Münster. He published the essential anthology of Catalan sociolinguistics: Sprachen im Konﬂikt: Theorie und
Praxis der katalanischen Soziolinguistik. Eine Textauswahl (Languages in Conﬂict; Tübingen, Narr, 1979).
After he was made chair at the university of Vienna, in 1986, he encouraged a good number of students to focus
on Catalan Studies. Kremnitz is also the maximum representative of the afﬁnity between Catalan Studies and
Occitan Studies in the Germanic area (Schlieben-Lange and I also belong to the group).
After the premature death of Antoni Pous in 1976, there was an interval with little activity in Catalan Studies
at Tübingen until Schlieben-Lange arrived in 1991 as a successor of Coseriu. She also died prematurely in
2000 and there was again a certain pause until Johannes Kabatek took over in 2004. In 2006 Kabatek became
president of the Deutscher Katalanistenverband and in the same year he was also elected president of the
International Federation of Catalan Studies Societies (FIAC).
The Deutscher Katalanistenverband (DKV)
I mentioned already that I had founded, in 1983, the Deutsch-Katalanische Gesellschaft. My model had been
the Anglo-Catalan Society, which has been extremely important for Catalan Studies in Great Britain since its
foundation in 1954. We followed their example by holding a yearly colloquium that, after a few years, expanded
to a several day event. Each year I had no difﬁculty ﬁnding another university where a colleague was happy to
organize the program. For the university in question it was always seen as an opportunity to reactivate their
Catalan commitment. After having started in Karlsruhe and Frankfurt, we had very productive colloquia in
university towns like Regensburg, Bonn, Hamburg, Cologne, Heidelberg, even in the neighbouring Luxemburg,
Berlin, Mainz, Mannheim, Jena, Freiburg, Bochum, Münster, Tübingen, Kiel, Vienna and Leipzig. This shows
how Catalan Studies are well distributed over Germany (and Austria). In 1997 the name of the society was
slightly changed and became Deutscher Katalanistenverband, thus abandoning the exact parallelism to the
name of the Anglo-Catalan Society, but strengthening the aspect of being an association of people professionally
dedicated to Catalan Studies. The Catalan name remains unaltered: Associació Germano-Catalana. It is logical
that the main importance of the association during its thirty years of existence has been to represent, promote
and give a united force to Catalan Studies in Germany. It has enhanced the possibilities of communication of
all those dedicated to Catalan Studies in the German-speaking centre of Europe. It has given prizes to young
investigators to help them deepen their interest in Catalan matters, has attracted the attention of the Romance
colleagues normally dedicated to other Romance ﬁelds and has cooperated internationally with other Catalan
Catalan Studies databases in Germany
I will close by mentioning some of the databases that are relevant for the Catalan presence in Germany. In
2005 we published the ﬁrst volume of a new series, coupled to our Zeitschrift für Katalanistik: «Biblioteca
Catalànica Germànica - Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Katalanistik». Its title is Bibliograﬁa de la literatura catalana
en versió alemanya: Narrativa, poesia, teatre, de Ferran Robles i Sabater (Aachen, Shaker), and lists all of
Catalan literature ever translated into German: about a hundred novels, six hundred narratives and tales and
one thousand eight hundred Catalan poems! The whole register can also be consulted on the Catalan Studies
website of the University of Frankfurt: www.kat.cat. On the same page one can ﬁnd a list of all the libraries
in the German area that have books in Catalan and on Catalan themes, with an estimate of the respective
quantities. The website offers a lot more speciﬁc Catalan data catalogues concerning the German area.
I have recently sent the «Who is who of Catalan Studies in the German-speaking area» to the DKV (www.
katalanistik.de). The personal bibliographies of each Catalanist give us an overview of current activity in
the literary and in the linguistic ﬁelds. Analyzing these bibliographies one can realise which are the favoured
themes of investigation. It is also interesting to analyse the contributions to twenty-ﬁve years of contributions
to the Zeitschrift für Katalanistik (1988-2012).
A comparatively short essay on Catalan Studies in the German area, as the present one, cannot give a complete
list of the prominent names and cannot take the place of an exhaustive bibliography of the German contribution
to Catalan Studies (which I proposed many years ago at the VI Col·loqui Internacional de Llengua i Literatura
Catalanes in Rome). It would be interesting indeed to have such a catalogue for each of the different language
areas in the world.
The points that I have mentioned in this exposé can surely be completed by German scholars who have
experienced their dedication to Catalan matters from another geographical and academic viewpoint. I hope,
though, that the data I have been able to collect will serve for future investigations and that for the moment
they can give a good idea of what has been and is the German dedication to Catalan matters.
 «Von den Provincial-Mundarten weicht die aragonische ein wenig, die valencische etwas mehr, die
catalonische aber am meisten ab».
 «Bei der Darlegung der Lautverhältnisse darf man sich auf die catalanische Form beschränken, da die
valencianische mit dieser fast identisch, nach Mayans II.58 nur weicher ist».
 «nicht nur die provenzalische, sondern auch […] die catalanisch-valencianische Mundart».
 Diccionari Català-Valencià-Balear, Palma de Mallorca, Moll, 1930-1962.
 Published ﬁrst from 1911 to 1920.
 Primer Congrés Internacional de la Llengua Catalana.
 Critical annual report about the progress in Romance Philology.
 The editor Otto Schulze had participated during a week in the philological excursion of Alcover and Schädel
 In: Bolletí del Diccionari de la Llengua Catalana 13 (1921), 77-83.
 Essay on the Internal History of Aragon until the End of the Royal House of Barcelona.
 In the Zeitschrift für Katalanistik 17 (2004, p. 155-226).
 The same year a similar book was published by Rafael Sevilla and Ricard Torrents: Katalonien. Kultur der
Moderne (Horlemann, Bad Honnef, 2007).
Til Stegmann is a tenured Professor of Romance Philology at the University of Frankfurt.
The Arrival of Wagnerianism
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
In the ﬁeld of opera, the arrival of the 20th century
caused a considerable fracture with the tradition that had
put down roots in Catalonia. The Wagnerian universe
went beyond and permeated all artistic expressions and
the Russian opera made its way in the middle of the
prevailing Italianated opera. Wagner was there to stay.
interpreted by the Choirs Josep Anselm Clavé in 1862,
marked the beginning of a love story between the
Wagnerian work and the Catalan public, crowned with
the translation, edition and singing in Catalan of the
works of the brilliant German composer. None other
than Isaac Albéniz showed in Barcelona for the ﬁrst time
the ﬁrst selected works of Richard Wagner’s ‘Tetralogy’
in an abridged piano version. One of the composer’s ﬁrst
biographers was another Catalan, Joaquim Marsillach,
who revealed in his works a cynical criticism to the Italian genre, which he despised. The unconditional
Barcelona enthusiasts of the Leipzig genios could not stand it when, by surprise, the Teatro Real of Madrid
overtook them by presenting ‘Rienzi’ in 1880, to which the Catalan responded by showing ‘Lohengrin’, in
Liceu, in 1882 and 1883, ‘Flying Dutchman’ in 1885 and ‘Tannhäuser’ in 1887, which were incorporated on
a more or less stable program of local seasons. The Wagnerian spirit quickly spread throughout the Catalan
society: articles on Wagner appeared in the papers, the concert programs included Wagner, his work raised
controversy and the 19th century came to an end with the presentation of ‘The Walkyrie’ and ‘Tristan’, followed
by the complete ‘Tetralogy’.
In 1901 the Wagnerian Association was created, an entity aiming to circulate and spread the composer’s work
using any media available. It published the texts and scores of some Wagnerian operas translated into Catalan
in various editions and formats, including detailed indications about the main ‘leitmotiv’. This admiration
exceeded everything that had been seen until then when ‘Parsifal’ went on stage in Liceu at 11 at night (12
in Germany) of 31 December 1913. This year all interpretation rights expired in Bayreuth, which meant that
it went ahead the European theatres that had scheduled it for 1 January 1914, including the Teatro Real of
The Wagnerian Association was the most obvious result of this love story which Clavé had planted forty
years before, amidst a culture medium that crystallized in ‘Renaixença’ and ended up being an active part of
modernism. Wagner and his work became the illustrative icon of this new aesthetics and, with his wonderful
imagery, had an inﬂuence on a whole generation of artists who captured the Wagnerian characters –and
Wagner himself– in oil paintings, watercolours, engravings and drawings, as well as sculptures, jewelry and
For many Catalans contemporary to the early editions of the Bayreuth Festival, arriving at the holy hill became
a real pilgrimage. For them, hosting the Wagnerian cause was a life-giving motive because despite these
achievements being recorded in the annals of Barcelona opera like the early presentation of ‘Parsifal’, very few
people know that the epic poem, in its time, was an artistic and audience failure. However, for some authors
the Wagnerian work shook these Catalans immersed in a bourgeois society unaccustomed to changes that
saw in Wagner the possibility of growing spiritually. This ‘Wagnermania’ quickly became the opposition of a
local tradition clinging to the Italian opera school. At the time Wagner turned out to be a movement almost
revolutionary, led by true fanatics convinced that the Wagnerian work had something to do with God in person.
The thesis of thinkers like Josep Letamendi conceived the Wagnerian corpus as a possible way out to ‘collective
ignorance’, to the point of conceiving of it as ‘the attonement and life project of humankind’. This theory was
launched at delicate social and economic times, seen from the early 21st century as politically and morally
decadent. For the doctor and intellectual ‘Rienzi’ it is the drama of revolution... of the battle for freedom and
the law against whimsical and brutal despotisms of a ﬁlthy and corrupt aristocracy.’
His disciple Joaquim Marsillach continued spreading the work of the Leipzig genius by editing the above cited
biography, written passionately ‘Ensayo biográﬁco-crítico de R. Wagner’ [Critical and biographical essay of
R. Wagner] and published in 1878. This work gave way to further controversy in several musical media, an
essential boost for the intellectual class to be interested in a character that aroused contrasting feelings and
embodied changes, even ministries.
The Catalanization of Wagner’s work soon arrived, even fascinated authors like Joan Maragall, who, above all,
admired his librettos, the text, as he believed that music was nothing but a ‘means to intensify the expression’.
He was paid homage in the centenary of his birth with the composition of a ‘Hymn to Wagner’. The Catalan
intellectuals adopted him, pampered him, and invested on him. However, the climax of Wagnerian devotion did
not come from the Wagnerian Association, or Letamendi, not even Marsillach; but rather Miquel Domènech
Espanyol. He was the one who saw God’s hand in Wagner’s work, a concept fully developed in his book
‘Apothéose musicale de la Religion Catholique: Parsifal de Wagner’, in 1902. Wagner inspired in Catalonia
books, magazines, musical societies, poems, musical scores. It adapts to the spirit of ‘Modernisme’, which
ﬂoods artistic workshops and is compared to Antoni Gaudí.
Culturcat - Generalitat de Catalunya
seven communities, one language
The list of local musicians and interpreters who have been carried away by Wagnerian magic is gigantic,
starting by his precursor, Josep Anselm Clavé, and followed by Felip Pedrell, Claudi Martínez Imbert, Isaac
Albéniz, Enric Morera, Jaume Pahissa, Anselm Barba, Francesc Viñas, Antoni Nicolau, Antoni Ribera, Ramon
Blanchart, Joan Raventós, Amadeu Vives, Lluís Millet, Eduard Toldrà, Josep Maria Segura, Conrad Giralt,
Mercè Llopart, Joaquim Pena, Josep Palet, Emili Vendrell, Pau Civil, Mercè Capsir or Victòria dels Àngels,
without forgetting about Montserrat Caballé.
‘Modernisme’ was also inﬂuenced by work signed by Slavic authors, especially Russian, and in the early 20th
century, some of the tunes from these authors became so popular that people used to hum them in the street.
This inﬂuence was felt strongly in some local authors: Tomás Bretón, Isaac Albéniz, Enric Granados, Manuel de
Falla, Amadeu Vives or Eduard Toldrà are some of them. Previously, Artur Baratta released on 12 June 1885 the
ﬁrst opera written in Catalan. He was followed by ﬁgures like Jaume Pahissa, Marià Obiols, Francisco Sánchez
Gavagnach or Manuel Giró. Felip Pedrell intended to go beyond simple opera compositions and established
aesthetic projects that linked music and popular mythology with opera, the great lyrical performance.
Enric Morera breathed in Modernism from the end of the century and was an active part of the activities
organized by Santiago Rusiñol in Sitges around the members of this mannerist style. In Sitges he showed for
the ﬁrst time his opera ‘La Fada’ [The fairy], in 1897; his nationalistic drive led him to found in 1901 the ‘Teatre
of the project forced him to migrate to Madrid, a city in which he participated actively with the composition
of several zarzuelas together with Ruperto Chapí and Amadeo Vives. Joan Lamote de Grignon, founder of
the Symphonic Orchestra of Barcelona, active until 1942, also was interested in musical theatre and in 1907
presented his only opera ‘Hespèria’, at the Liceu.
In 1902, Joan Manén presented in Liceu ‘Giovanna di Napoli’, and the following year ‘Acté’, for which, like with
all his stage works, he wrote its libretto. Manén lived in Germany for long periods of time; a great admirer of
Wagner and Richard Strauss, his inﬂuences can be felt in his scores, characterized by a grandiose orchestration.
Proliﬁc composer, all his production before 1907 is lost. He re-wrote ‘Acté’, changad its name to ‘Neró i Acté’
[Nero and Acté], and increased its complexity. Its German appearance was in 1928, in Karlsruhe. In 1933 the
work was presented in Barcelona, then in Catalan. However, the only Catalan composer who managed to adapt
his operas to Liceu in these years was Jaume Pahissa, but, since his exile in 1939 his music has been totally
Musical activity in Catalonia, including Italian, Russian and German opera as well as zarzuela, also suffered
from the expected avatars caused by the Civil War. Before being imposed the Franco dictatorship, the Liceu
–privately owned since its foundation– was expropriated in 1936 and for a short period of time became the
National Theatre of Catalonia. It went back to its legal owners once the war was ﬁnished. The Liceu soon offered
again its former repertoire, although it evolved according to the tastes and fashions of the time, thanks to the
capacity of businessmen (Joan Mestres Calvet –until 1947– and Joan Antoni Pàmias –until 1980), committed
to bring forward the artistic projects. This responsibility continued until the constitution of the Consorci del
Liceu [Consortium of Liceu], in 1980, when the management of this building was transferred to public hands.
The Frankfurt Book Fair (Before and After)
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
To deﬁne the impact of the Frankfurt Book Fair of 2007
on raising awareness about Catalan literature at an
international level, it might be useful to compare it to what
the 1992 Olympics meant for Barcelona, despite the clear
differences between both events.
Let’s not forget that all fairs, and the largest Book Fair in
the world is no exception, are events that seek to globalize
and are of a decidedly commercial and promotional
nature –without completely excluding their political
implications—and if we look at it this way, then Catalan
culture had the opportunity to introduce itself to a vast
number of people who knew absolutely nothing about it.
Frankfurt, even if only partially, put Catalan culture on the
map and also raised the self-esteem of Catalans regarding
their enterprising nature and the quality of their country’s literature.
The initiative of bringing Catalonia to Frankfurt was an idea of several members of the powerful Catalan
Editors’ Guild that emerged in the last decade of the 20th century, their speciﬁc goal being to ﬁnd a way to raise
awareness worldwide about literature in Catalan. The project, however, did not start to take shape until 2002
with the creation of the Ramon Llull Institute (IRL) under the direction of Joan Maria Pujals (CDC), who made
it one of the priorities of this Institute during his mandate. Already with the ﬁrst tri-party Catalan government,
and with a nod of approval from the socialist government in Madrid, the Catalan candidature received approval
from the German organizers of the Fair in 2005. The presentation of the program of activities took place in
Frankfurt in the autumn of 2006, during the mandate of the second tri-party Catalan government, and it was
accompanied by controversy as it had been announced that Catalan authors who wrote in Spanish would not be
participating. Thus in Germany there was a lot of a talk –and not very positive, if we take a look at the German-
speaking press from those dates— about the bitter tug-of-war regarding this [language] issue in Catalonia, one
that continues today. The ﬁnal version of the program was met with the foreseeable incomprehension of the
German press, the majority of which labeled the IRL’s policies “provincial,” and very few journalists tried to
investigate how things had played out on both sides.
The Ramon Llull Institute, with Carles Torner as head coordinator, presented a rich and varied literary program
that spanned a full year, especially in Germany and Austria but also in Catalonia and other areas where Catalan
is spoken. The program included activities that promoted both the knowledge of Catalan culture and literature
as well as the strengthening of intercultural dialogue between Catalans and Germans. Among the numerous
activities that took place it is important to highlight (due to their success in numbers of participants and their
excellent reception), the bilingual readings protagonized by various Catalan writers in different Literaturhäuser
(houses of literature) scattered throughout Germany. These readings served to present to a large public the
German translation of works of these Catalan authors, and they were often accompanied by book reviews
in the press. The following two aspects are precisely what should be hailed as complete successes from the
Frankfurt Book Fair: in the ﬁrst place and in order of importance, the IRL gave a signiﬁcant boost to the policy
of translations of Catalan literature into other languages, beginning with the German language; secondly, the
degree and seriousness of the attention the specialized German press devoted to the Catalan writers and their
Regarding the translations, aside from highlighting the presentation of ﬁfty-three new German translations
(proof of the success of all the hard work of Torner’s team), it is important to recall that the Frankfurt Book
Fair was what tested and clariﬁed the functions of the Ramon Llull Institute when it comes to the promotion
of Catalan literature abroad, and it consolidated a universal model for translation grants that has given us very
good results since then. Torner always insists about how important it is for Catalonia to be able to have an
institute that is dedicated to the promotion of the local language, literature and culture that is comparable to
institutes in countries and cultures of similar dimensions to Catalonia. The support for translation, following
the model these institutes apply, is universal and is not interventionist, and it does not contemplate publishing
or distribution expenses: thus, grants are provided to those who ask for them. Of the translations presented
in Frankfurt it is important to point out that they were from a wide range of literary genres: narrative, above
all, but also poetry, theater and essay; and a mix of contemporary and classic authors: and here it is especially
important to highlight the carefully prepared new editions of Tirant lo Blanc or the complete poetic works
of Salvador Espriu, both translated by Fritz Vogelsang, or the translation of fragments of Pla’s Quadern gris,
Rodoreda’s Quanta, quanta guerra..., or of Víctor Català’s Solitud.
Jaume Cabré and Maria Barbal’s resounding success that year in Frankfurt would merit a chapter apart. Their
success both consolidated and increased the international presence they already had abroad, which was unlike
Quim Monzó and Albert Sánchez Piñol who had already established an international presence that was quite
independent from the Book Fair. The massive and indisputable success of Cabré and Barbal, showered with
praise in the German press during that period, is not so far removed from the glowing review that the former
minister Joschka Fischer gave Les veus de Pamano on television and that the literature critic Elke Heidenreich
gave of Pedra de tartera on the television show Lesen!, which shows just to what point the ways we spread the
word about literature have been changing, relegating print literary criticism to a secondary role with regard to
the inﬂuence on the success or the failure of works and authors. What is clear is that international publishing
Jordi Jané i Lligé - Visat núm. 14 - October 2012
seven communities, one language
phenomena like Jaume Cabré, or at least those that gained recognition in Frankfurt, should be celebrated when
it comes to spreading the word about Catalan literature and culture: who could imagine a better ambassador
for Catalan literature than Jaume Cabré?
With regard to the press, it is important to highlight the quantity and the quality of the articles and reviews that
introduced the German public to Catalan authors and their work. The contemporary authors that received the
most reviews were those mentioned previously —Quim Monzó, Maria Barbal, Albert Sánchez Piñol i Jaume
Cabré—, but it was a nice surprise to also see the number of articles dedicated to the editions of Pla, Rodoreda,
Espriu, Víctor Català or Tirant lo Blanc. Leaving behind the controversy of the authors that were invited and
the language issue, the authors of these reviews point out the values and the signiﬁcance of the works and they
delve into their creative worlds to offer us a strictly literary vision of them. Often, anticipating the possible
reservations of the public, they would use the work they were commenting on to justify the elevated status of
Catalan literature. Peter Hamm is a good example of this, which can be seen in an article he dedicated to the
poetic works of Espriu that was published in the prestigious weekly publication Die Zeit, where he states:
«Das erste Missverständnis, das es auszuräumen gilt, ist die Vorstellung, es handle sich bei der
katalanischen Literatur um eine Regionalliteratur.» [«The ﬁrst misunderstanding that it is important
to clear up is the idea that Catalan literature is a regional literature.»]
It is important to keep his comment in mind as it helps us understand how the Catalan case (for many different
reasons) is truly perceived by a majority abroad, and why it is so essential that our institutions continue their
work abroad. If we look at the media coverage, the truth is that aside from talking about –in an extremely
biased manner—the controversy surrounding the authors that were invited, serious publications such as Die
Zeit, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung dedicated supplements and quality full
page spreads to extensive commentaries of Catalan literature, both the historical and current situation. We
should not underestimate the effect that these kinds of prestigious critiques had on a certain public that was
more specialized and more intellectual, as well as more interested in deeply understanding the Catalan reality
that was being presented to it.
A ﬁnal and extremely important legacy of Frankfurt 2007 that it is important to mention is the publication
of the two volumes of Carrers de frontera [“Border Streets”] in Catalan and German, edited by Arnau Pons
and Simona Škrabec, in which close to one hundred specialists reviewed the history of the exchanges between
the Catalan and German cultures over the past ﬁfty years. This excellent work, of an encyclopedic nature,
should perfectly complement similar works dedicated to dialogical relations between the Catalan culture and
other cultures. The work is based on the principle that the spaces where exchanges take place are extremely
important for the enrichment of cultures: it is just as important to project oneself abroad as it is to know how to
accommodate what comes to us from abroad. This is an extremely useful instrument for getting to know ones
own cultural history and to encourage future research.
As the parameters have shifted –in terms of global cultural exchanges and contacts or with regard to production
and sales in the publishing world—it is important to think about where the internationalization of Catalan
literature is headed and how this ties into Frankfurt’s legacy. First of all and quite obviously, we need quality
Catalan literature with writers of great talent that are capable of attracting the attention of readers from around
the world. Secondly, it will be up to the hard work, involvement and actions on behalf of the Catalan publishing
houses and literary agents when it comes to promoting their products abroad, adapting themselves to the
laws and strategies that are being imposed globally in the international market. In this regard, the Frankfurt
Book Fair acted as a magniﬁcent loudspeaker, but that particular model of dissemination, with involved
an enormous injection of public resources, is a one-time affair, having completed its function of an initial
promotional “push.” With regard to institutional support, it is necessary for a public institution like the Ramon
Llull Institute, together with an organization like the Catalan PEN, to help make up for the added difﬁculties
that come with being a Catalan writer in the world by offering grants and other forms of promotional activities
as much as possible; at the same time, it is of primordial importance that the IRL maintains a network of
professionals abroad who guarantee the training of translators in other languages and of specialists in Catalan
language and culture who are capable of advising foreign publishers, and to act judiciously and critically in
public opinion spaces around the world.
The Frankfurt Book Fair demonstrated that it is possible to capture the attention of the world if you have
something to say, and Catalan writers always have had —and continue to have— many things to say. As they
are the best representatives of their culture it is worth it to continue working so that their voices reach beyond
Jordi Jané i Lligé (Terrassa, 1968) is an associate professor in the Department of English and German
Philology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Photo courtesy of Visat : La coca de Mataró de 1450, Prins Hendrik Museum, Rotterdam. Replica of J. Prim
German Views on Catalonia*
An additional challenge to the European crisis
A Matter of Translation issue #15 - april 2013
Several German think-tanks and analysts are
starting to draw their attention to Catalonia.
In their opinion, the question of Catalan
independence adds more complexity to day-to-
day European crisis management, opening at the
same time new opportunities and potential risks
on the way back to recovery.
Europe is standing at a crossroads, thus facing some of
the most critical challenges in its recent history. Gideon
Rachman, FT chief foreign affairs, deﬁned in a few words
the current situation at a recent CIDOB/CCME event in
Barcelona: “Germany is running the show”. Interestingly
enough, the mainstream German public debate does not
focus on the crisis as being a part of its own problem and
looks instead with increasing disregard to the so-called
Südländer-countries; an everything-but-nice word that has come back to the political agenda. Catalan citizens
and their corporate organizations generally fall into the category Spaniards, therefore Südländer. The “brand
Spain” is well-known these days in Germany, mainly because of the several corruption scandals affecting the
country, which the German press has explained to its public with all kinds of details. Recent polls show how
Germans feel, as if they had been paying the bill for nothing for the past decades. An example of German
austerity values is embodied in the Bund der Steuerzahler, the powerful taxpayers’ lobby association, which
is not only systematically against European bailout policies, but promotes initiatives like the launching of a
campaign to punish those who waste German tax payers’ money by putting them in jail.
Even the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the foundation linked to the Social Democrats, recently published a study
in March 2013 called “Future Scenarios for the Eurozone 2020: Perspectives on the Euro Crisis”, which after
a series of workshops in 14 European cities, including Berlin, Brussels and Barcelona, describes what most of
the consulted analysts perceived as “the, not exactly desirable, but probably second best outcome of the current
crisis” before the ideally “completion of the Eurozone by a ﬁscal and political Union”. This scenario being an
intermediate stage, featuring a two-speed Europe where a core group of vanguard states “might serve in the long
run as a locomotive, pulling the crisis-ridden nations out of the mess”. Indeed, the study mentions Catalonia
while foreseeing “some wealthy regions within (southern European) states that would join a core integration
zone”, thus becoming independent within the core of the European Union. Nevertheless, the authors take into
consideration the power of massive citizenship movements, acting as a “trigger” in order to move decision-
makers in one direction or the other.
A different article, called “The return of movable boundaries? Secession and independence movements in
the European Union”, part of a larger study called “Unplanned is the normal case: situations that deserve
attention”, was published in 2011 by SWP, the biggest Federal Chancellery sponsored think-tank in Berlin. The
study addresses the situation in Scotland, Flanders and Catalonia, issuing some recommendations under the
perspective of German interests. Thus should Germany “react in a ﬂexible way to separatist movements. (…) If
everything indicates that an EU-country is threatened by paralysis, then it makes sense to accept the secession”.
Germany should not encourage the separation, but insist in the fact that “this shall happen in agreement and
cooperation between the motherland and the new state, or between the new states”. Additionally, “the begining
or the end of statehood within the EU does not necessarily mean destabilization, as it can actually create a new
balance”. Nevertheless, uncontrolled or hostile divorce must be avoided, as it puts European integration in
The study also warns of undesired secondary effects of breaking the taboos of moving borders, i.e. regarding
the relationship between Hungary and some of its neighbors, the problems of Wallonia not fulﬁlling the
required criteria to enter the Eurozone or the difﬁculties that might arise if the consequent EU-membership
renegotiation with a UK without Scotland would end up within British insistence to become additional opt-
outs. Finally, the authors reveal what could seem to be one of the biggest German concerns: the image damage
towards other European countries, suspicious about the fact that the “bigger and united Germany” would
have unilaterally chosen to promote separation again, as it did once in the case of Yugoslavia. To avoid this, it
strongly recommends the coordination between EU-member states, regarding the recognition of a new state
and the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Finally, a recent article called “Wings – and then” from Prof. Dr. Bardo Fassbender, published at the F.A.Z.-
paper edition from April 5th, 2013, describes the rights of the Catalan and Scottish People with regard to EU-
citizenship and EU-membership. Catalonia and Scotland are closely economically intertwined with the EU.
The recent sovereignty declaration of the Catalan Parliament is explicitly committed to the EU and its founding
principles. Although it seems that, after becoming a new state they should apply for new EU-membership,
Prof. James Crawford and Prof. Alan Boyle assume that the EU would adapt the candidacy-process to that of a
country whose legal system already belonged to the Union. Additionally, the European Court in Luxembourg
could stop an automatic, initial expulsion from Scotland from the EU if that expulsion would mean the Scottish
citizens would lose their former rights as EU-citizens.
seven communities, one language
Barroso’s afﬁrmations concerning Catalonia and Scotland having to apply for EU-membership “as any other
state” are wrong, as art. 49 of the EU-treaties did not consider the eventuality of the candidacy of a third state
arising from another member state. Concerning a hypothetical veto by Spain or the UK, this would be a clear
case of abuse of rights, if the reason for this attitude was the “punishment” of the concerning population due
to their decision to secede from the former state entity. There is no legal base to this situation, as secession
is not forbidden by EU-treaties. Art. 4 and Art. 21 guarantee the external integrity of EU-boundaries and the
integrity of each state, but only regarding other states or foreign threads; in any case towards their own People
and citizens, those who live inside the Union and its borders.
Prof. Fassbender quotes the EU-court case van Geld & Loos from 1963, which establishes jurisprudence in
terms of the Union rights and law being aligned in order to protect the legal status and rights of all those who
once were EU-citizens, as “the subjects of EU-law are not only its member states, but also its individuals”.
All member states have speciﬁcally showed their commitment to the EU-treaty, including its preamble, when
it asserts “the process of the creation of an ever closer Union among the peoples of Europe”. This preamble is
clearly incompatible with the punishment through exclusion of the People of Catalonia or Scotland, just because
of their democratic will to decide in a legal process about their independence from their former states. The
preamble also proclaims the “calling upon the other peoples of Europe” to join the Union. This ﬁnal sentence
is especially addressed to those People like Scots or Catalans.
Adam Casals is a Senior Corporate Advisor with 20 years experience in German-speaking markets.
(*) An extended version of this article will appear on the next issue of Catalan International View.
Image courtesy of criminalatt / FreeDigitalPhotos.net