Michael Eaude

Lodging in the Memory

Life Embitters

By

Archipelago Books 600pp £20 order from our bookshop

Life Embitters is a happy mix of stories, memoir, essays and travel pieces, ‘narrative literature’ in Josep Pla’s words. The basis of his writing is observation of detail. As he wrote in The Gray Notebook, published in English last year, ‘The drama of literature never changes. It is much more difficult to describe than to opine. In view of which, everyone prefers to opine.’

Pla (1897–1981) was a liberal journalist in the 1920s and 1930s, reporting from all over Europe for the newspapers of Barcelona. This career was halted by the 1936 military uprising that started the Spanish Civil War. Revolution broke out in Catalonia and Pla fled: he came from a family of small landowners and was hostile to the anarchists. In exile, he spied for Franco on ships leaving Marseille (a city featured brilliantly in Life Embitters). In January 1939, Pla entered Barcelona with the dictator’s conquering army. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : 'Gracefully meditative...a Chatterton-esque literary discovery of old, albeit with references to Bob Geldof and Alk… ,
    • Still time to win tickets to Lady Windermere's Fan at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. To enter simply email marke… ,
    • In need of last minute christmas gifts for children? Philip Womack reviews the latest children's books from Jessica… ,
    • "An artist had to be a chemist – and he had to have a strong stomach. He would have known, writes Jelley, 'the usef… ,
    • Good spelling, us! ,
    • This Christmas, why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions… ,
    • Philip Henscher on Thom Gunn's 'Selected Poems' ,