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Overview

The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla

Josep Pla’s masterpiece, The Gray Notebook, is one of the most colorful and unusual works in modern literature. In 1918, when Pla was in Barcelona studying law, the Spanish flu broke out, the university shut down, and he went home to his parents in coastal Palafrugell. Aspiring to be a writer, not a lawyer, he resolved to hone his style by keeping a journal. In it he wrote about his family, local characters, visits to cafés; the quips, quarrels, ambitions, and amours of his friends; writers he liked and writers he didn’t; and the long contemplative walks he would take in the countryside under magnificent skies. Returning to Barcelona to complete his studies, Pla kept up his diary, scrutinizing life in the big city with the same unflagging zest and humor.

Pla, one of the great Catalan writers, held on to this youthful journal for close to fifty years, reworking and adding to it, until he finally published The Gray Notebook as both the first volume and the capstone of his collected works. It is a beautiful, entrancing, delightful book—at once a distillation of the spirit of youth and the work of a lifetime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590176719
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 04/08/2014
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 1,300,501
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Josep Pla (1897–1981), the eldest of four children, was born in Palafrugell on the Costa Brava to a family of landowners. He studied law in Barcelona, abandoned law for journalism, and in 1920 moved to Paris to serve as the correspondent for the Spanish newspaper La Publicidad. Banned from Spain in 1924 for his criticisms of the dictator Primo de Rivera, Pla continued to report from Russia, Rome, Berlin, and London, before returning to Madrid in 1927. He supported the new Spanish Republic that emerged in 1931, but was soon disillusioned and left the country during the Civil War, returning in 1939. Under the Franco regime, he was internally exiled to Palafrugell and his articles for the weekly review Destino were frequently censored. After 1947 his work began to be published in Catalan, and his complete works were published in full in 1966. They comprise forty-five volumes, of which The Gray Notebook—begun in 1919, but polished and added to throughout the intervening years—is the first.

Peter Bush is an award-winning translator who lives in Barcelona. Among his recent translations are Ramón del Valle-Inclan’s Tyrant Banderas (for NYRB Classics), Teresa Solana’s Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts, Mercè Rodoreda’s In Diamond Square and Najat El Hachmi’s The Body Hunter.

Valentí Puig is a Catalan poet, novelist, and literary critic who writes in both his native Catalan and in Spanish.

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