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SPAIN: Juan Eduardo Cirlot and Catalonia

I pointed out that Juan Eduardo Cirlot, born in 1916, was younger than the García Lorca crowd, which I knew in 1934-6, even though it is commonly referred to as the Generation of 1927. Cirlot was connected to it mainly through his friendship with the Buñuel family. The Barcelona clique to which he belonged had ties with the Madrid group, although politically they split. Stephen Scwartz says "Cirlot remained in Spain after the civil war. He was a member of the group of Catalan painters and writers around J.V. Foix and Tapies. That group was legal in Barcelona after World War II, under the name Dau al Set, or Seven-Faced Dice. Foix was a supporter of the Franco counter revolution, although he remained in Barcelona during the civil war. David Gascoyne, the English surrealist, and Stephen Spender, both visited Foix in Barcelona during the civil war and later commented on his literal silence -- his refusal to say anything at all. This was because he was quite afraid of the anarchists who remembered his embrace of real Mussolinian fascism. In the 1934 revolution in Catalonia, Foix published a newspaper called Revolucio Catalanista, as I recall, in which he proposed establishment of a fascist, nationalist independent state. At the same time, Foix had been the introducer of Breton and the other French surrealists in Barcelona in 1922, and was the discoverer of Miro and Dali as well as Tapies. When Foix died he was considered one of the greatest of all the Catalan poets of modern times, regardless of his politics, although my friend and collaborator Victor Alba described him to me as "a fascist shit." One of the funniest experiences of my life was to read a doctoral thesis by an American woman from, as I remember, Texas, who, knowing nothing at all, described Foix as an antifascist and analyzed a poem of his as a protest against Franco, when it was actually a description of Foix's daughter fleeing the Spanish war for exile in fascist Italy.

I don't know Cirlot's politics. I suspect he was rather a cultural traditionalist. I doubt his unpopularity as a poet had to do with his politics. Camilo Jose Cela was quite right wing and nobody held it against him in Spain -- there is a long roster of similar examples.

RH: Stephen refers to a plan for a fascist Catalan state- That ties in with the plan to make Montserrat the shrine of Catalan nationalism. German Nazi leaders visited Montserrat. I have been trying to find out more about this, but modern Catalans remain silent on the subject. Can Stephen enlighten us?

Ronald Hilton - 7/4/03