El retrat en la carrera del jove Josep Pla

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The first series of literary portraits published by Josep Pla in 1925 in a periodic publication were deemed as revolutionaries. This works had a great impact on the regional newspapers from the first moment of their appearance on the press. Afterwards, these works conformed the section “Retrats” (portraits), which was completed by some more unpublished works, with which a then young Pla finished his first book, Coses vistes (Seen things). 1920–1925. In 1925, the portrait writer laid down the bases of his long and intense career as a testimonial writer. In his short portraits we can find the seeds of his long biographies, which he started in 1928 with the one about the painter Manolo Hugué (which was also the one written with a more marked journalistic style, as he uses the article method).First of all, in most of the occasions he met the character personally. The personal statement, direct and of first-hand, allowed him to declare that he was not so fond of writing novels: “I have probably some disposition to write memories. The portraits (…), what are them but pieces of my final memories? What are the most liked articles, but pieces of my life, visions of my life, anecdotes and stories of my life, whims and snippets of my life?Pla has realized that in journalism there is a rich expressive field between the opinion and the information: the field of the interpretation – which was still unexplored by the Catalan writers. And, when he describes a character, he interprets it over the physical appearance.On that matter, he followed Julio Camba’s example, as Camba considers the portrait as a caricature in the sense that, every individual, as we see him, never is anything more than an interpretation of him.We also need to take into account that it is possible that Pla took Camba’s portraits as a reference. This can be proved by the fact that, as he does with the other writers who he admires and follows, he praises some Camba’s features which are also his. That can be seen, specially, when he says that most of the times the origin of Camba’s articles is a real life fact which becomes a sketch of general ideas after thinking of it for a while.


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