Los Catalanes — Patrick O’Brian / The Catalans by Patrick O’Brian

Hay muy buena escritura, mezclada con algunas cosas experimentales. O’Brian nos ofrece una visión detallada de la vida en un antiguo pueblo de pescadores catalanes ligado a la tradición y mucha discusión abstracta. Gran parte de la escritura es bastante buena, gran parte de la trama y la línea de la historia, no tanto. Un lector atento sabrá lo que tiene que suceder muy rápidamente, de modo que el giro casi solitario al final es la sorpresa de este libro. Puedo recomendar este libro en general, especialmente para los fanáticos de O’Brian o para aquellos que no estén demasiado interesados en sus libros más famosos de Veleros. Sin embargo, mi recomendación es moderada y cautelosa. El libro está casi libre de violencia, sin lenguaje vulgar y, por lo demás, apto para familias.
Los catalanes de Patrick O’Brian se considera su segunda novela para adultos. Había estado escribiendo para su publicación desde su adolescencia y tenía varios cuentos en su haber. Tanto el libro como su predecesor inmediato Testimonies: A Novel se inspiraron en las casas que había construido para él y su esposa en las partes remotas de Gales y en Catalanes, un pueblo catalán igualmente remoto.
También a partir de su propia biografía, sus personajes principales son el medio distante y sin emociones, uno de la ciencia médica, Alain, y su pariente mayor, el alcalde local, abogado y corredor de poder general y estético, Xavier.
Alain es un médico capacitado, pero es un médico investigador más que un practicante. Esto es algo bueno ya que, a pesar de todo su tacto y sensibilidad, es remoto y no muy bueno con el aspecto humano de su mundo. Cuando escucha música o se enfrenta a cualquiera de las artes, es analítico y se inclina a notar detalles más que respuestas viscerales. Lo remoto que está, se enfatiza inicialmente por la necesidad de que la familia lo recuerde de los extremos más lejanos del Oriente donde practica su ciencia.
Se le necesita en casa debido a las complejas demandas y los vínculos entre los miembros de la familia y los posibles matrimonios entre los miembros de la familia. Específicamente, Xavier, un pilar importante de la comunidad y poseedor de importantes propiedades familiares, ha formado un vínculo inaccesible con una hermosa mujer mucho más joven de la familia equivocada. Ella ha sido su asistente de oficina durante años, pero él solo ha comenzado a notarla mientras maneja su divorcio. Se nos dice que los dos no son amantes, pero los rumores de que lo son y la posibilidad de que se casen es suficiente para asustar a los familiares de Alain.
En su papel de hombre para romper esta mala alianza, Alain se enfrenta a las complejas emociones a las que se enfrenta su primo mayor. A través de un largo proceso, ha determinado que está viviendo una vida religiosa, pero que ya está condenado a la perdición por su incapacidad para sentir emociones genuinas. El suyo había sido un matrimonio funcional, si no romántico, con una mujer de mala salud. Había intentado y no pudo vincularse con su hijo y con un perro. En su asistente, Madelaine, había encontrado un nuevo escalofrío de emociones y esperaba entrar con lógica en su corazón. Aprendemos todo esto, pero no podemos estar seguros de que Alain tenga los detalles porque tiende a entrar en un estupor distante y casi dormido ante este tipo de desnudez del alma.

Tenemos una historia detallada de su matrimonio fallido con su primer amor. Más allá de esto, casi no tenemos ningún sentido de ella como una persona que no sea que tiene que ser fuerte para soportar las constantes presiones de su familia inmediata. Todos ellos dan la impresión de ser groseros y molestos.
O’Brian está en su mejor momento hablando de las tradiciones de sus pueblos. Su arquitectura antigua fortaleza, la y los aromas de la temporada. Hay un momento en el que Alain y Xavier hacen un picnic y él nota que la hierba suave está mezclada con orégano fragante. Su descripción detallada de la cosecha comunal anual del pueblo de la cosecha de vino, el vendange. Este capítulo es el centro del libro y contiene su mejor escritura. O’Brian cultivó sus propias uvas y participó en muchas de estas cosechas. La pasión y el respeto del autor por la gente y las tradiciones del pueblo catalán se transmite con mayor claridad en este centro climático casi oculto del libro.
Hay varios problemas con esta novela. Madelaine no tiene ningún papel activo o personalidad real. Ella está en la historia para ser el centro de atracción, no para ser una persona real. La narrativa puede estar abarrotada de varios esfuerzos para intentar técnicas experimentales. Los personajes pueden venir con demasiada presentación solo para luego desaparecer. El arco de la historia básico es obvio desde el principio, pero O’Brian provoca algunos giros en la trama. El camino del amor puede ser torturado y tortuoso.
Los catalanes no es un mal libro. Hay algunos pasajes líricos finos y algunos estudios de personajes muy finos. También hay un desorden narrativo y una serie de personas que se supone que debemos preocuparnos, pero que no son tan atractivas. Alain es vago en su pensamiento y en su presencia en la página. Xavier debería ser retratado para nosotros con tanta fuerza como lo es entre sus respetuosos aldeanos. No es.
Aún así, esta es la segunda novela para adultos de O’Brian. Vemos cómo madurará como escritor. El lector puede encontrarse preguntándose sobre este lugar y los catalanes.

Libros del autor comentados en el blog:

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/la-costa-desconocida-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-unknown-shore-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/contra-viento-y-marea-patrick-obrian-the-golden-ocean-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/hombres-de-mar-y-guerra-patrick-obrian-men-of-war-life-in-nelsons-navy-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2021/01/06/husein-el-mahut-patrick-obrian-hussein-an-entertainment-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2021/07/01/cesar-el-panda-leopardo-patrick-obrian-caesar-the-life-story-of-a-panda-leopard-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2021/07/07/los-catalanes-patrick-obrian-the-catalans-by-patrick-obrian/

Colección Aubrey & Maturin (20 libros)

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/1-capitan-de-mar-y-guerra-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-master-and-commander-vol-book-1-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/2-capitan-de-navio-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-post-captain-vol-book-2-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrien/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/3-la-fragata-surprise-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-h-m-s-surprise-vol-book-3-aubrey-maturin-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/4-operacion-mauricio-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-mauritius-command-vol-book-4-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/5-isla-desolacion-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-desolation-island-the-aubrey-maturin-novels-book-5-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/6-episodios-de-una-guerra-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-fortune-of-war-vol-book-6-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/7-el-ayudante-del-cirujano-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-surgeons-mate-vol-book-7-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/8-mision-en-jonia-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-ionian-mission-vol-book-8-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/9-el-puerto-de-la-traicion-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-treasons-harbour-vol-book-9-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/10-la-costa-mas-lejana-del-mundo-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-far-side-of-the-world-vol-book-10-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/11-el-reverso-de-la-medalla-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-reverse-of-the-medal-vol-book-11-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/12-la-patente-de-corso-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-letter-of-marque-vol-book-12-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/13-trece-salvas-de-honor-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-thirteen-gun-salute-the-aubrey-maturin-series-book-13-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/14-la-goleta-nutmeg-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrien-the-nutmeg-of-consolation-vol-book-14-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/15-clarissa-oakes-polizon-a-bordo-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-clarissa-oakes-aubrey-maturin-series-book-15-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/16-un-mar-oscuro-como-el-oporto-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-wine-dark-sea-vol-book-16-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/17-el-comodoro-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrien-the-commodore-vol-book-17-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/18-almirante-en-tierra-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrien-the-yellow-admiral-vol-book-18-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/19-los-cien-dias-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-hundred-days-vol-book-19-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/20-azul-en-la-mesana-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-blue-at-the-mizzen-vol-book-20-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

—————–

There is some very good writing, mixed in with some experimental stuff. O’Brian gives us a richly detailed view into life in an old, tradition bound Catalan fishing villages and a lot of abstract discussion. Much of the writing is quite good, much of the plotting and story line, not so much. An attentive reader will know what has to happen very quickly, such that the almost solitary twist at the end is this books one surprise. I can recommend this book in general, especially for O’Brian fans or those not too interested in his more famous Sailing ship books. However my recommendation is tempered and cautionary. The book is very nearly violence free, coarse langue free and otherwise family friendly.
Patrick O’Brian’s The Catalans is considered his second adult novel. He had been writing for publication since his early teen years, and had a number of short stories to his credit. Both the book and its immediate predecessor Testimonies: A Novel were inspired by homes he had made for himself and his wife in the remote parts of Wales and in Catalans, an equally remote Catalan Village.
Also drawing from his own biography his main characters are remote unemotional mean, one of medical science, Alain, and his older relative the local mayor, lawyer and general power broker, and esthetic, Xavier.
Alain is a trained medical doctor, but is a research physician rather than a practitioner. This is a good thing as he is for all of his tact and sensitivity, remote and not very good with the human aspect of his world. When listening to music or confronted with any of the arts he is analytical and inclined to note specifics rather than visceral response. How remote he is, initially is emphasized by the need to for the family to recall him from the far ends of the orient where he practices his science.
He is needed back home because of the complex demands and linkages between family members and possible marriages between family members. Specifically, Xavier a major pillar of the community and holder of important family property has formed an unactable liaison with a much younger beautiful woman from the wrong family. She has been his office assistant for years, but he has only begun to notice her as he is handling her divorce. We are told that the two hare not lovers, but the rumors that they are and the possibility that they become wed is enough to panic Alain’s relatives.
In his role as the man to break up this misalliance, Alain is confronted with the complex emotions his older cousin is confronting. Via a long process he has determined that he is living a religious life, but already condemned to perdition because of his inability to feel genuine emotions. His had been a functional if not romantic marriage to a woman of poor health. He had attempted to and failed to bond with his son and with a dog. In his assistant, Madelaine, he had found a new thrill of emotions and hoped to logic his way into her heart. We learn all of this, but we cannot be sure that Alain has the details because he tend to go into a detached nearly asleep stupor in the face of this kind of soul baring.

We get a detailed history of, up through her failed marriage to her first love. Beyond this we get almost no sense of her as a person other than she has to be strong to withstand the constant pressures of her immediate family. All of them, come across as loutish, and nagging.
O’Brian is at his best talking about the traditions of his Villages. Its ancient fortress architecture, the and scents of the season. There is a moment when Alain and Xavier picnic and he notes that the soft grass is laced with fragrant oregano. His detailed description of the village’s annual, communal harvesting of the wine crop, the vendange. This chapter is the center of the book and contains its best writing. O’Brian grew his own grapes and participated in many of these harvests. The author’s passion for and respect for the people and traditions of the Catalan people is most clearly conveyed in this the almost hidden climatic center of the book.
There are several problem with this novel. Madelaine has no real active role or personality. She is in the story to be the center of attraction, not to be a real person. The narrative can be cluttered with various efforts to attempt experimental techniques. Characters can come with too much introduction only to have then disappear. The basic story arch is obvious from the beginning, but O’Brian does bring about a few plot twists. The way of love can be tortured and winding.
The Catalans is not a bad book. There are some fine lyrical passages, and some very fine character studies. There is also narrative clutter and a number of people we are supposed to care about, but are not that appealing. Alain is vague in his thinking and in his presence on the page. Xavier should be as powerfully portrayed to us as he is among his respectful villagers. He is not.
Still, this is O’Brian’s second ‘adult’ novel. We do get to see how he will mature as a writer. The reader may find themselves wondering about this place and the Catalan people.

Books from the author commented in the blog:

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/la-costa-desconocida-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-unknown-shore-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/contra-viento-y-marea-patrick-obrian-the-golden-ocean-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/hombres-de-mar-y-guerra-patrick-obrian-men-of-war-life-in-nelsons-navy-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2021/01/06/husein-el-mahut-patrick-obrian-hussein-an-entertainment-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2021/07/01/cesar-el-panda-leopardo-patrick-obrian-caesar-the-life-story-of-a-panda-leopard-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2021/07/07/los-catalanes-patrick-obrian-the-catalans-by-patrick-obrian/

Aubrey & Maturin Books (20)

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/1-capitan-de-mar-y-guerra-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-master-and-commander-vol-book-1-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/2-capitan-de-navio-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-post-captain-vol-book-2-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrien/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/3-la-fragata-surprise-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-h-m-s-surprise-vol-book-3-aubrey-maturin-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/4-operacion-mauricio-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-mauritius-command-vol-book-4-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/5-isla-desolacion-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-desolation-island-the-aubrey-maturin-novels-book-5-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/6-episodios-de-una-guerra-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-fortune-of-war-vol-book-6-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/7-el-ayudante-del-cirujano-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-surgeons-mate-vol-book-7-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/8-mision-en-jonia-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-ionian-mission-vol-book-8-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/9-el-puerto-de-la-traicion-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-treasons-harbour-vol-book-9-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/10-la-costa-mas-lejana-del-mundo-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-far-side-of-the-world-vol-book-10-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/11-el-reverso-de-la-medalla-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-reverse-of-the-medal-vol-book-11-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/12-la-patente-de-corso-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-letter-of-marque-vol-book-12-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/13-trece-salvas-de-honor-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-thirteen-gun-salute-the-aubrey-maturin-series-book-13-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/14-la-goleta-nutmeg-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrien-the-nutmeg-of-consolation-vol-book-14-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/15-clarissa-oakes-polizon-a-bordo-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-clarissa-oakes-aubrey-maturin-series-book-15-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/16-un-mar-oscuro-como-el-oporto-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-wine-dark-sea-vol-book-16-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/17-el-comodoro-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrien-the-commodore-vol-book-17-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/18-almirante-en-tierra-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrien-the-yellow-admiral-vol-book-18-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/19-los-cien-dias-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-the-hundred-days-vol-book-19-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

https://weedjee.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/20-azul-en-la-mesana-narrativas-historicas-patrick-obrian-blue-at-the-mizzen-vol-book-20-aubrey-maturin-novels-by-patrick-obrian/

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