Llorenç Villalonga (Palma, 1987-1980), was a writer who had also studied medicine, specialising in psychiatry (1919-1927).
He worked as a doctor in Palma, first as a private consultant and subsequently in the city's Psychiatric Hospital. He was also Secretary of the Balearic Islands Medical College.
Villalonga began his literary career by writing for the Palma-based newspaper Día with a series of articles that were notable for their clear anti-Catalanist and anti-republican sentiments. Not long afterwards, he published his first novel Mort de dama (Death of a Lady, 1931), under the pseudonym of Dhey. This work, which is markedly caricaturesque, caused a huge controversy in the provincial society of Mallorca, whose members felt they had been unkindly lampooned. With time, the book became a classic of Catalan literature, along with another work, Bearn o La casa de les nines (which was published in Catalan in 1951 and in English, in the translation of Deborah Bonner, as The Dolls' Room (London, Andre Deutsch, 1988)), winner of the National Critics' Prize and undoubtedly one of the most widely-translated novels of twentieth-century Catalan literature. Besides these two emblematic novels, he wrote a number of other works that gave shape to the myth of Bearn, especially after the 1960s. In these books, Villalonga intelligently and nostalgically portrays the swansong of the old Mallorca aristocracy. Hence his work, Bearn in particular, has been compared with Il gattopardo (The Leopard) by the Sicilian writer Giuseppe di Lampedusa, which Villalonga translated into Catalan in 1962.
Also of note are his plays, Fedra (Phaedra, 1932), Silvia Ocampo (1935) and Desbarats (Defeats, 1965), and the collection of articles Centro (Centre, 1934).
Web page: Nausica Solà for AELC.
Translation: Julie Wark.
Photographs: Casa Museu Llorenç Villalonga.