Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Re-presenting the City in Quim Monzó's L'illa de Maians

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2004), 81, (1), 81–94.

Abstract

This article examines a selection of short stories by the contemporary Catalan writer Quim Monzó. I suggest that Monzó's unique method of representing Barcelona marks a significant shift in traditional literary responses to writing the city. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's essays on 'rhythmanalysis', I argue that Monzó reads the contemporary Catalan capital as a series of linguistic, behavioural and social rhythms. Throughout his short stories, topographical references to Barcelona are subsequently absented and the city is re-presented within the lives, practices and language of characters. Barcelona is alluded to through the use of metaphorical suggestion rather than being presented as a series of recognisable urban locations. I also suggest that Monzó's unique method of reading urban space is related to wider social and cultural processes, thereby demonstrating, as Raymond Williams argued, that the changing form of the literary sign is inextricably linked to, and indeed reveals, changes in the dominant 'structure of feeling' within a society. I argue that the rhythms of local and global cultural identities exist in mutual interrogation throughout the stories discussed, and that the juxtaposition of these rhythms illustrates the phenomenon of cultural hybridity in the contemporary Catalan capital.

Aquest article examina una selecció d'històries curtes de l'escriptor contemporani Quim Monzó. Hi suggereixo que el mètode únic de Quim Monzó a l'hora de representar Barcelona reflecteix un canvi significatiu en la manera habitual d'escriure la ciutat. Basant-me en els assajos de Henri Lefebvre sobre l'anàlisi rítmica, argumento que Monzó interpreta la Barcelona contemporània com una sèrie de ritmes lingüístics socials i de comportament. Per mitjà de les seves narracions breus, Monzó evita, doncs, qualsevol referència topogràfica de la ciutat i aquesta és re-presentada a partir de les vides, la pràctica i el llenguatge dels personatges. Barcelona és al·ludida per mitjà de l'ús del suggeriment metafòric i no pas com una sèrie de paisatges urbans identificables. També apunto a l'article que aquest particular mètode de lectura de l'espai urbà que fa Monzó està relacionat amb un procés social i cultural més ampli que demostra que, com Raymond Williams afirmava, la forma variable del signe literari està inefablament lligat – i hi revela canvis – a l''estructura sentimental' dominant que hi ha al teixit intern de tota societat. Afegeixo a més que els ritmes de les identitats culturals, tant a nivell local com global, hi són presents i s'interroguen mútuament en totes les històries del recull; aquesta juxtaposició de ritmes, a més, il·lustra el fenòmen de la hibridesa cultural de la Barcelona contemporània.

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Wells, Caragh