Catalan Review

THE CATALAN CLASSICAL SCENERY: JOSEP PLA’S ACCOUNT OF THE GRECO-ROMAN RUINS OF EMPÚRIES THROUGH GEORG SIMMEL’S PHILOSOPHY OF LANDSCAPE

Catalan Review (2020), 34, (1), 43–58.

Abstract

In this essay the question of landscape is tackled through the juxtaposition of two different but complementary approaches: Josep Pla’s writings on the Empordà, and Georg Simmel’s philosophy of landscape. The idea of Stimmung that, according to Simmel, “glues” a landscape together is challenged by Pla’s description of the ancient ruins of Empúries as a fragmented landscape in permanent reconstruction that lends itself to all kinds of interpretations. Pla not only focuses on the question of landscape in and of itself but also on how it affects the personality of the observer and how it generates a particular historical unity. In the case of Empúries, this unity turns out to be highly evocative and must be protected from the instrumental Catalan nation-building promoted by Noucentisme, as well as the banal gaze of mass tourism. However, the search for purity of experience and Mediterranean measure inevitably leads Pla to confess that he is a patriot of his landscape, thereby adopting some of the attitudes he is criticizing.

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Author details

GUINART, PAU