El quadern gris

El quadern gris / The Grey Notebook

Biography / Memoirs , 1966


It is a diary begun in 1918 that enabled him to discover his narrative voice, and completed in 1965 when he was a well-established writer. Josep Pla imbues the landscape and his surroundings with profound meaning that goes beyond mere description. He does not simply seek the most fitting adjective to reflect what he observes but rather searches for the seed of the emotion that it inspires in him. The cultural, polític, aesthetic and moral reflections that result from observing his immediate surroundings stem from a need to discover the secret they conceal, the significance of a fleeting yet striking impression, and the meaning behind scenes from everyday life.

Pla’s opus, solely comprising prose Works, is immense. Influenced by Montaigne, Pascal, Leopardi, and Stendhal, Pla offers his own brilliant testimony of his time. He was an extremely insightful journalist who traveled widely and frequently. Traveling was not an exercise in tourism for him, but rather a discovery of life, and literature. A self-declared “anti-romantic”, Pla shunned affected, artificial Language. Beyond being a novelilst, he was a skillful and articulate storyteller. Pla’s work is his own greatest ally. 

'Language Without a Country, The Gray Notebook', by Alan Riding, The New York Times, April 18, 2014

"...c’est l’un de ces livres rares et heureux qu’on peut ouvrir à n’importe quelle page et qui offre, à n’importe quelle page, quelque chose de plaisant et d’intelligent. C’est aussi, peut-être, la meilleure introduction à l’œuvre d’un écrivain indispensable." Javier Cercas, Liberátion, 20/03/2013


"Josep Pla was a great noticer of things and places; his gaze was alert and dry; he wrote in a style which registered both the smallest detail and the large picture. His relationship to the scene in front of him, or the days in which he lived, remains fascinating for its clarity, its sharpness, its originality and its wit. On display in his work is a glittering and sparkling sensibility." Colm Toíbin