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Solitude by Víctor Català

Solitude (original 1905; edition 1992)

by Víctor Català (Author), David H. Rosenthal (Translator)

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2711473,702 (4.09)21
The simple life of Mila, young and naive, abruptly ends when she is raped by Anima, a friend of her husband, Matias.
Authors:Víctor Català (Author)
Other authors:David H. Rosenthal (Translator)
Info:Readers Intl (1992), Edition: 5, 216 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Decadence (Catalan)

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Solitude by Víctor Català (1905)


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Catalan (9)  English (3)  Spanish (2)  All languages (14)
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I really enjoyed Victor Catala's "Solitude" even though it is a fairly bleak story. The characters were drawn really well and I found the shepherd's stories about as interesting as the main character did.

In this novel, newly married Mila is dragged up to manage a hermitage by her drifter husband. She is naive and terrified, but moved by the stories told by a wandering shepherd. Things go badly as the veil is removed from Mila's eyes in an increasingly tragic series of ways.

Even though this is a rather quiet story, it really held my interest. ( )
  amerynth | Jan 28, 2019 |
Solitude is one of those tales, seemingly so simple, that carry you along right from the beginning, almost as if you are listening to a skilled storyteller.

Recently wed Mila and Matias were travelling to their new home and his new job. Matias had been quite vague about both, but Mila was excited enough about her new life to accept at face value what little information he had given her. Initially they had travelled by cart, but now the Catalan mountains had become so steep that they would have to complete their journey on foot. Mila grew more and more apprehensive. Suddenly Mila halted and turned around, astounded: Holy Virgin! How far they'd travelled that day!

Beneath them she saw nothing but waves of mountain, huge, silent mountains that sloped into the quiet dusk, which enveloped them in shadow like a darkening cloud.

Mila searched that blue emptiness for a wisp of smoke, a hut, a human figure... But she saw nothing, not the slightest indication that they shared the landscape with other human beings.

"How lonely!" she mumbled, stunned and feeling her spirit grow as dark or darker than those shady depths

Finally they reached their destination, a hermitage and chapel dedicated to St Pontius, ironically the "patron of good health". They were to be the new custodians. The shepherd Gaietà and the boy Baldiret were there to greet them.

Mila and Matias now became "Hermit" and Hermitess"; Gaietà was "Shepherd". Mila hated this form of address, this loss of identity, the inability to see beyond the role. "Hermitess" served as a constant reminder to her of her isolation, especially as Matias spent more and more time away.

Solitude need not equate to loneliness. The shepherd worked hard to tell Mila the stories of the mountain, its rocks, trees, streams and spirits. He knew what loneliness and melancholy could do to her if she let them intrude. He wanted her to see her new world in the way he understood it; to become one with it. He wanted her free from the evil forces on the mountain, both natural and human.

Mila's struggle to adapt could be seen as any young woman's journey to adulthood. However, Paradís creates such a tension between the mountain's opposing forces that Mila becomes the embodiment of the struggle to attain psychological and sexual self awareness. There is very little explicit here. [Solitude] was first published in serial form in 1904-5, well before such themes built around female characters gained acceptance. Paradís had to publish under a male pseudonym, Victor Català, although her identity was known to her publisher.

Apart from her pseudonym, there is nothing overtly Catalan about this novel. The story would be as credible in settings like Greece or Albania. Later, however, it was affected by the Spanish Civil War. In the author's 1945 foreword to this, the fifth edition of [Solitude], she says two additional chapters, left out of the earlier editions, were intended to be reintegrated in a new 1937 edition. "However, the fratricidal war, which wrecked so many things with its obstacles and unforeseen upheavals, paralyzed publication temporarily, and when I returned home, it was to a disagreeable surprise." A search of her home under a flimsy pretext "... had turned the whole house upside-down", and the two chapters had disappeared.

This 1995 translation by David Rosenthal is the first translation into English of a book the publishers say is "... the most important Catalan novel to appear before the Spanish Civil War."
  SassyLassy | Oct 27, 2017 |
In my search for a suitable book for my personal Reading Through Time-challenge, I found this wonderful book, written by a Catalan author. It's quite a simple story about a young woman who moves to the Spanish Pyrenees with her husband, a lowlife who's not worthy of her. She has to get used to the rugged life in a desolate landscape and harsh living-conditions. Helped by an old shepherd, she finds consolation in the dramatic nature surrounding her but after a crisis, she decides to leave the Pyrenees.
This is a book that I find typical for the early 1900s, with a lot of naturalism and symbolism where nature plays its own role in the story and interacts with the feelings and thoughts of the woman. I like this kind of book, once and awhile, but not too often, as it can become a bit heavy. But, all in all a good book. ( )
  Trifolia | Nov 18, 2013 |
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Passat Ridorta havien atrapat un carro que feia la mateixa via que ells, i En Matias, amb ganes d'estalviar el delit, preguntà al carreter si els volia dur fins a les collades de la muntanya.
After passing through Ridorta, they had come across a wagon going their way and Matias, who wanted to preserve his strength, asked the driver if he would mind taking them as far as the foot of the mountain.
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The simple life of Mila, young and naive, abruptly ends when she is raped by Anima, a friend of her husband, Matias.

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