Josep Maria Aloy
Josep Vallverdú was born in Lleida on 9 July 1923. At the age of twelve he wrote a poem and, at thirteen, a "Pastorets" nativity play, which he illustrated himself. He has been a man of many residences. "I've never settled anywhere", he says, but wherever he's been he's left his mark.
A long time ago he lived in Puiggròs, in the Les Garrigues region, far from the urban hubbub and frequently enveloped in an "insidious, cottony, mist, a stupid, greyish and useless engulfer of colours". If you want to see him happy, give him a rustic setting, with repose and stability and a vegetable garden to cultivate in person. If you want him even happier, let him write, especially novels for young people. Josep Borell defines him as "a writer grafted to the Horacian line: a blend of man of letters and farmer". He is not suggesting any rural extremism. Just serene, heartfelt identification between man and land.
An individualist serving the collective. Solitary but not remotely lacking in solidarity. Emotional and sensitive. His career – impeccable – has been constructed a long way from ballyhoo and fireworks, subject only to his testimony of rigorous fidelity to his country.
He has always been crazy about publishing. In La Galera alone, in the "Els Grumets" collection, he has twenty-two titles which add up to over a hundred editions. His book Rovelló [Mushroom] has gone into twenty editions and has been translated into Italian, French, Basque, Spanish and even Russian, apart from being the children's book that has won the most prizes in the past thirty-five years. The series of cartoons on this mischievous dog has had considerable success and television rights have been acquired by other television networks outside the country. "One cannot doubt", writes the critic Francesc Boada, "the social significance of his work if one bears in mind how small our market is".
He has been awarded a host of prizes and has also been a candidate for the Hans Christian Anderson Prize, which is akin to the Nobel Prize for young people's literature. He has been a writer "able to create his own line and to stay true to it, shunning the throes of fashion", as the writer Teresa Duran notes. A good part of his work is a lucid reflection on men and women, their conduct and weaknesses, and there is an inescapable aspiration: that something should vibrate in the young reader after finishing one of his novels.
Pedrolo described him as a "fable-spinner" and Francesc Danés as an "unabashed graphomaniac". Others have said that he is a "cultural agitator", a "man steeped in culture" or an "educator in civic values". His generous presence has been the stimulus for a great number of cultural events of all kinds and, in many cases, in the words of Antoni Bergós, "it has been a blast from the bellows that was needed to get the coals flaming again". He is probably the most widely-read author among the young people of Catalonia, possessor of a solid career despite the fact that, in his prudent, modest way, he declares that, "In the end, one gets where one gets mostly because of pure and simple chance".
He has been one of the great opinion makers and leading theorist of contemporary thought in the west Catalonia region. Ironic, irreducible, an intelligent, elegant, demanding conversationalist... His articles in the press are always lucid. He is entranced by the stoicism of dogs and their fidelity. Yet he could not live without having a cat close by.
Although some have described him as a "writer for all seasons" because of the diversity of his work, it must still be stressed that he is one of the most prolific and prestigious writers for young people in the country. For many he is the doyen of this frequently undervalued literature. His corpus for this readership consists of over sixty titles written in elaborate, suggestive, rich prose. He specialises in adventure stories and, in particular, the action novel, although one observes in his writing a desire for variety that has led him to take on all kinds themes and all narrative forms. Vallverdú, like a good taster-of-all-flavours, has created a wide-ranging, diverse and enviable literary world. The main characteristics of his work, widely recognised and winner of many prizes, are his tradecraft, coherence and fidelity. It is a solid oeuvre built on values that, without overlooking the playful side of things that is appropriate in literature for young people, also presents the challenge of constant reflection and the personal enrichment of the reader. Continue reading...