Josep Pla: “...sóc un illòman” (Josep Pla ‘…I am an island lover’)

The papers that Josep Pla wrote about the Balearic Islands are many and varied. The fascination that this writer from Palafrugell held for this place in the Mediterranean, the instantaneous and profound identification that he lived, inspired the production of journalistic and literary texts from the beginning of his professional life until his final years.

Journalist and writer, tireless traveller, curious impenitent dominated by “la diabòlica mania d’escriure” (the diabolical mania of writing) from youth explored ” el genius loci de les illes somiades” (the alluring passages of the dreamed islands). For Pla, to travel and write were inseparable when trying to both acquaint himself with, and understand the country and the people of the place he was visiting.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, Pla travelled and explained the world that he came to know. His view was extremely personal, that of a profound localist, and always carried by his poetic genius and accompanied by the irony and scepticism necessary to proceed.

When talking about “del meu país” (my country), through both the illustrious and the simple country people (irrespective of whether it be the Empordà or Majorca), he paints a precise world. This world is simultaneously concrete and determined, made to measure, described subjectively and with nostalgia for those things that have been lost through the passage of time.

In Majorca, Menorca, Eivissa, Formentera and, above all, Cabrera he wanted to discover the essence, the love for the Mediterranean that stole his heart, and the insularity that characterised their people. He wanted to know, understand, and explain in writing their situation, their “homenots”(great men) and the social transformations, both cultural and natural, that had been produced.

This exhibition (that can be seen in Majorca, Menorca or Eivissa thanks to the support of the Foundation “la Caixa”) demonstrates the relationship of the writer to the Balearic Islands through an extremely varied recompilation of documentation.

“Jo sóc un illòman. És, probablement, una malaltia de l’esperit encara no qualificada pels facultatius –un enyorament sempre permanent excitat per la meva solitud vagament misantròpica però recalcitrant. He somniat tota la vida poder passar en una illa qualsevol del Mediterrani dos o tres anys. No ho he pogut resoldre mai. Ara ja és una mica tard però el somni encara dura i durarà, sospito, fins al final.”

Josep Pla. Les illes. OC XX, XV, 10-11.