Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The Jocs Florals in Contemporary Catalan Literature

Josep M. Domingo


In 1859, the very same stimulus that drove the ambition to create Barcelonas Eixample (enlargement) design by urban planner
Cerdà served to restore the Jocs Florals in Barcelona, a symbolic complement which quite calculatedly evoked powerful arguments of
historical legitimacy which the Catalans of the mid-19th century would harness for their latter-day aims. Under the authority of the
Romantic gothic revival, in 1859 the Jocs Florals, were, in fact, a meteoric, sumptuous chapter in the operation known by its own instigators
as the Renaixença (Renaissance), the diverse communicative movement with which the elites of the day set out to symbolically
project and impose themselves. Since then, beyond the literary competition which they primarily are, the Jocs Florals have polarised
the intense symbolic, monumentalising and civic activity that ended up shaping the shared code of the culture of Catalanism. At
the same time, by vindicating the symbolic and heritage value of the Catalan language, they opened up a space for cultivated literary
uses which, after being successively expanded, served as the seed of the contemporary Catalan literary system, independent of the fact
that the literary norm that the Jocs Florals promoted soon entered into crisis and that they would be vehemently spurned. However,
they remained intact as a civic platform and instrument of agitation and propaganda, as proven by their profuse replication around the
Catalan-speaking lands and their infiltration into popular festivities, as well as their militant journeys around Europe and America in
the 20th century, after being banned by the Franco regime.

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