Pere Calders, Writer
Born in Barcelona in 1912, Pere Calders is another example of a Catalan author wrenched onto unforeseen pathways by the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. At the end of that conflict, and after being interned in a concentration-camp, Calders went into exile in Mexico, where he remade his life. To speak about Calders is to speak about a great short-story writer in Catalan. He is an exceptional narrator: agile, unpredictable and subtle. His stories, often impregnated with a realism touched by magic and mystery, make believable the unbelievable. Calders's gaze is always ironic, though never caustic or embittered.
The Rediscovery of Calders at the End of the 1970sIn the autumn of 1978, there were two events that decisively marked the public recognition of Pere Calders. On 27 September was the official premiere of Antaviana, a stage adaptation of Calders' stories in a performance by the theatre company Dagoll Dagom and, a little over a month later, the book, Invasió subtil i altres contes (Subtle Invasion and Other Stories) was published ten years after the appearance of his previous book, which contained formerly unpublished writing (Tots els contes, [All the Stories, 1968]). Popular success, which had always eluded him, now became a faithful travelling companion for the literary work one of the most beloved and loveable Catalan writers of the twentieth century.
Pere Calders i Rossinyol (Barcelona, 1912-1994) had just turned sixty-six and had retired from his professional obligations at the publishing house Editorial Montaner i Simó not long before. Although Antaviana and Invasió subtil i altres contes revealed the magic of Calders' fiction, the writer already had a long - and also chequered - literary career behind him, after its public inauguration in 1936. Five collections of stories (El primer arlequí [The First Harlequin, 1936]; Cròniques de la veritat oculta [Chronicles of the Hidden Truth, 1955]; Gent de l'alta vall, [People from the High Valley, 1957]; Demà, a les tres de la matinada [Tomorrow at Three in the Morning, 1959], and the anthology Tots els contes, 1968), four full-length novels (La Glòria del doctor Larén [Doctor Larén's Glory, 1936], Gaeli i l'home déu [Gaeli and the God Man, 1938], L'ombra de l'atzavara [The Shadow of the Agave, 1964], and Ronda naval sota la boira [Naval Patrol in the Mist, 1966]), and one novella (Aquí descansa Nevares (Here Rests Nevares, 1967), along with a book of war reports (Unitats de xoc [Shock Brigades, 1938]) and a biography of Josep Carner (1964), had already endorsed him as an established writer of sweeping register.
It is no accident that the belated recognition of Calders' work should have come at the end of the 1970s. This is in keeping with a certain historical logic that, even if it is difficult to distinguish causes and effects, offers us an approximation to some of the keys for interpreting this singular fictional universe.