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 Ramon del Valle-Inclan's Tyrant Banderas (for NYRB Classics), Teresa Solana's Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts, Merce Rodoreda's In Diamond Square and Najat El Hachmi's The Body Hunter. VALENTINI PUIG is a Catalan poet, novelist, and literary critic who writes in both his native Catalan and in Spanish.
'In Peter Bush's excellent translation ... is a delight ... a vibrant testimony to the power of words to transcend time.' New York Times Josep Pla was a great noticer of things and places; his gaze was alert and dry; he wrote in a style which registered both the smallest detail and the large picture. His relationship to Catalan identity and Spanish history was complex, often ambiguous. His relationship, however, to the scene in front of him, or the days in which he lived, remains fascinating for its clarity, its sharpness, its originality and its wit. On display in his work is a glittering and sparkling sensibility. -- Colm Toibin Considered one of the most influential Catalan authors of the twentieth century, [Pla] was born and raised in the Emporda, and over the course of his life wrote over 30,000 pages of prose in which he diligently catalogued the landscape and the life and habits of the people of the region. His complete works, published and republished over the years, contain marvelous descriptive passages that capture the landscape's history and its complex topography at once. -- Words Without Borders Josep Pla has long been considered one of the finest writers of autobiographical texts in any of the languages of Spain. -- Hispanic Review Pla seems to enjoy an almost constant series of presence effects in plays of light and shadows, expressions on faces, turns of phrase, the direction of the wind. His own encounters with presence are what illuminate the communicative potential that the landscape holds, if we approach it the right way. -- Romance Quarterly Born in Palafrugell, Josep Pla was a popular journalist who traveled widely to report on world events. His politics, conservative yet liberal, joined with an ironic skepticism that did not endear him to Catalan leftists and nationalists. Yet by the end of his life he was recognized as the most distinguished prose stylist in Catalan. His devotion to writing is evident in his collected works, which fill forty-six volumes. The Gray Notebook is a diary from 1918-19 that Pla revised over many decades. -- World Literature Today The grand old man of Catalan letters and one of Spain's most prolific writers. -- Chicago Tribune