Journal of Catalan Studies/Revista Internacional de Catalanisme

[Ressenyes / Reviews]

Reviews / Ressenyes

Dominic Keown
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Arthur Terry: a festschrift richly deserved
Estudis de llengua i literatura catalanes, XXXV, Homenatge a Arthur Terry, 1. Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, Barcelona, 1997, 276 pp., ISBN: 84-7826-894-4.


As a great majority of international Catalanists will attest it is extremely difficult when working in this "minority" subject to achieve the academic recognition which is so rightfully attained by those colleagues whose research interests encompass spheres of a more massified nature. For such appreciation to be forthcoming one either has to be very fortunate or – and this is a far more difficult proposition – to enjoy the immense investigatory stature of Arthur Terry. Indeed, what remains surprising in this respect is that we have had to wait so long for the reward of the present festschrift to be bestowed upon this veritable giant of the Catalan critical arena.

As Joan Veny outlines in his affectionate introductory preamble, there are few scholars more worthy of such a homage. As is duly explained, the track record of this distinguished intellectual is, first and foremost, without equal in the field of the defence of the Catalan cultural identity: "Terry s un exemple de fidelitat a la nostra cultura. El 1949 ja prenia contacte amb el nostre poble i era testimoni de les vexacions i insolncies de qu era objecte. Particip en reunions literries clandestines i col.labor en revistes que sortosament aconseguien sortejar la censura. Va restar sedut per un poble que ‘havia reeixit a conservar un alt sentit de la dignitat humana i del valor de les seves prpies tradicions’". (6) This constancy of purpose was to continue throughout a distinguished career, including such onerous though prestigious charges as the Secretaryship and Presidency of the Anglo-Catalan Society (the position of Treasurer did not exist at that time) and the Presidency of the AILLC from 1982 to 1988.

Restrictions of space do not allow for any equitable synopsis of this academic’s production in the critical sphere. It might best be summed up simply as awesome: not only for the extent of the erudition but, more impressively, for its penetration and sensitivity which has never failed to impress successive generations of students of the work of March, Brossa, Ferrater, Foix, Manent, Maragall, Riba, Xirau, i un llarg etctera. Veny is also entirely correct to refer to the tutorial dimension of Terry’s magisterial office; and both these professorial aspects are elicited with eloquence and accuracy: "els seus alumnes...guarden records inesborrables d’un mestre modlic: ocenica erudici, profunda sensibilitat, diafanitat expositiva, humor, suau, bondat. Una bondat que l’ha portat sempre a atencions desinteressades vers els seus deixebles, britnics i catalans". (6) The only qualifier absent from this pupilary list is, of course, the adjective "Irish". That oversight notwithstanding, the present reviewer is pleased to endorse most sincerely – and with the authority of personal experience – the sentiments described above.

As as result, it is entirely fitting that the this volume should impress with the soundness of its scholarship – reflecting the breadth of Professor Terry’s interests – and the category of its contributors. Germ Coln provides an interesting etymological study of vells as it appears in a passage from Espill and the philological dimension is completed with essays by Rabella, Piquer and Dols who deal with the Greuges de Guitart Isarn, applied linguistics and phonology repectively. As might be expected from the nature of the volume, the emphasis on literary topics is more pronounced with the surveys by Curt Wittlin on Southey’s 1807 critique of the Tirant and Eullia Duran on the reception of March in the sixteenth century proving absolutely fascinating. Though all the contributions in this sphere are worthy of note, it would not be unfair to isolate those which deal with more specifically "Terrian" themes as would be the essays by Gascn and Almirall on the intimacies and intricacies of the Renaixena experience, Alpera on Snchez Cutillas, Madrenas and Ribera on Sindreu, and Camps on the reception of Montale by Hispanic letters.

From the number in the title of the work it may be inferred that more volumes of the festschrift are planned. These are only to be awaited with expectation given both the eminence of the homenatjat and also the quality of the articles on offer in this edition.