Montserrat Roig

(Nou diccionari 62 de la literatura catalana)

Montserrat Roig (Barcelona, 1946 - 1991) began to be respected as a writer at a very early age, as a result of the publication of her first novel, Molta roba i poc sabó (A Lot of Washing and Not Much Soap). Her next novels confirmed and intensified this prestige. An Arts graduate, in Philosophy and Arts, Montserrat Roig showed that she was also a magnificent author in the prose of ideas, both historical and journalistic. She worked with various periodical publications and also television. Various major prizes, such as the Victor Català Award (1971), the Saint George’s Award (1976) and the Serra d’Or Critics Award (1977) represent important milestones in a brilliant career as a fiction writer and essayist, cut short in 1991 by her premature death.

Barcelona, 1946-1991. Fiction writer and journalist. Daughter of the writer Tomàs Roig i Llop, she had an Arts Degree (1968) and was a Reader in Spanish at the University of Bristol (1972 - 1973). Roig is one of the most representative names of the group of authors who began their literary careers at the end of the 1960s. A successful writer, committed to Catalan culture and feminism, she first became known with Molta roba i poc sabó... i tan neta que la volen (A Lot of Washing and Not Much Soap ? and As Clean As They Want), winner of the 1970 Víctor Català Prize, which meant as early as 1971 that she was already part of the group of writers known as La generació literària dels 70 (The Literary Generation of the 70s) and studied in the book by Oriol Pi de Cabanyes and Guillem-Jordi Graells.

This first collection of short stories inaugurated a cycle that was to be continued with three novels: Ramona, adéu (1972), El temps de les cireres (published in 1977 and winner of the 1976 Sant Jordi Prize) and L'hora violeta (The Violet Hour - 1980). These four works, which are intertextually related by their main characters (the members of three generations of the Ventura-Claret and Miralpeix families), offer a literary version of the history of the petit-bourgeoisie of the Barcelona neighbourhood of the Eixample, from the end of the nineteenth century through to the 1970s, with particular focus on the closing years of the Franco regime. Indebted to the tradition of the Catalan novel (and especially Narcís Oller and Mercè Rodoreda), Roig's works are constructed from the standpoint of her leading characters, the women who lived through these years and who therefore offer a version that is marked by their sexual condition, often by means of their own writings (from letters through to a novel). Hence, prominent themes are relations among women, the social roles allocated to women, female sexuality, the problem of articulating their subjectivity, the role of writing in women's self-expression, power relations between the sexes, etc..

L'òpera quotidiana (The Everyday Opera - 1982), which still had one of the Miralpeix women as its main character -at least partially- but now with leanings towards new literary interests or other spheres that, in the previous book, had only had a relative presence (music, for example), signalled a transition to other thematic and formal areas, and a new stage in Roig's fiction. The novel La veu melodiosa (The Melodious Voice - 1987) and the stories of El cant de la joventut (1989) in which most critics highlighted the literary maturity Roig had achieved, were to be the only two examples of this shift because of her premature death, which came as a great blow to the world of Catalan letters.

Montserrat Roig translated and also wrote some plays and essays, while working in other genres as well. Among these latter works are the monologue Reivindicació de la senyora Clito Mestres (The Vindication of senyora Clito Mestres -premiered in the Romea Theatre on 10 June 1991), her meditations in Digues que m'estimes encara que sigui mentida (Say You Love Me Even If It's a Lie - 1991), and L'autèntica història de Catalunya (The Real History of Catalonia -illustrated by the artist Cesc). She began to work as a professional journalist at an early age in different areas of the media including Tele-exprés, Destino, Triunfo, Cambio 16, Serra d'Or, Avui, etc., while also writing literary texts for the reviews Lletra de canvi and Els Marges, among others.

At the same time, and in direct relation with her journalistic activity and her left-wing, feminist and Catalan-nationalist political activities, she published Los hechiceros de la palabra (Wizards of the Word - 1975), Rafael Vidiella o l'aventura de la revolució (Rafael Vidiella or the Adventure of the Revolution - 1977), Els catalans als camps nazis (1977), winner of the Serra d'Or Critics' Prize, ¿Tiempo de mujer? (Time of the Woman? - 1980), Mujeres en busca de un nuevo humanismo (Women in Search of a New Humanism - 1981), L'agulla daurada (The Golden Spire - 1985), et cetera.

Her journalistic and television writings in Personatges (Personalities) and Retrats paral·lels (Parallel Portraits) of the 1970s and the collections of articles Melindros (Dippings - 1990) and Un pensament de sal, un pessic de pebre. Dietari obert 1990-1991 (A Sprinkle of Salt, a Pinch of Pepper. Open Diary 1990 - 1991 -which appeared posthumously in 1992), along with a number of prologues and introductions in Spanish (for example Mujeres para la historia (Women for History) by A. Rodrigo, and El derecho a la contracepción (The Right of Contraception) by E. Castells) complete an oeuvre that has gone into many re-editions and has been translated into several languages (including English, French, German, Portuguese, Hungarian, Italian and Spanish).

  • Poetry As Drawing
  • Massa mare
  • Música de poetes
  • Premi LletrA