Joaquim Ruyra: The Long Oar
Ruyra was in the vanguard of the Catalan modernist generation as they constructed a new literary model after 1860 when the Catalan language became the vehicle of cultural nationalism. He has been called the 'prince of Catalan prose'.
This is a sea story whose epic quality has invited comparisons with Homer and Tolstoy and, in its treatment of the sea as reference in a psychological voyage, with Melville, Conrad and Hemingway. El rem de trenta quatre is a high point in Ruyra's work which is outstanding for his transformation of poetic rhythms into the music of his prose. Here, the narrator's internalisation of near shipwreck, her experiences, emotions and mental awakening, are mapped onto maritime elements that are detailed with a painter's eye. Through masterly dialogue, Ruyra characterizes each personality in the rich catala salat dialect of Blanes, centre of a linguistic map of the Catalan coast from Alacant to Roses, lovingly describing and naming its villages and physical features. An Appendix, by M. Lluisa Julia, provides a comparison between this story and Joseph Conrad's Typhoon .