Joan Ferraté (Reus, 1924 – Barcelona, 2003) was a poet and translator as well as being one of the most respected literary critics of his time. He studied Classical Philology in Barcelona but, because the difficult times that followed the Civil War, he went to teach in universities abroad, in Santiago de Cuba and in Alberta, Canada. On his return to Catalonia in 1985, he participated in the debates of the day and systematised his disperse oeuvre, a lot of which was scattered in small reviews and daily newspapers.
Outstanding among his contributions as a scholar are his readings of other poets, whom he sometimes interpreted through translation. Hence, Lectura de "La terra gastada" de T.S. Eliot (Reading of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, 1977), Les poesies de C. P. Cavafis (The Poetry of C. P. Cavafy, 1987) and Llegir Ausiàs March (Reading Ausiàs March, 1992), inter alia, frequently blend the tasks of critic and translator and of intellectual and reader. The result is an open, suggestive literary viewpoint that always offers new paths to follow, while conserving those already traversed.
Ferraté wrote prologues and was responsible for publications of key Catalan authors, for example Carles Riba, with whom he shares the privilege of having attempted the best possible translation of Cavafy. Many of his articles and short essays have been collected in the volume Provocacions (Provocations, 1989). Also notable is his work as editor of the unpublished work that his brother Gabriel Ferrater left on his death and his interesting dispute with Joan Fuster over the work of Salvador Espriu.
Finally, it should be remarked that Joan Ferreté produced poetry that was both rigorous and very important at the time it appeared, with books like Les taules de Marduk (Marduk’s Tablets, 1970) and Llibre de Daniel (Book of Daniel, 1976). His complete poetic oeuvre may be found in Catàleg general: 1952-1981 (General Catalogue: 1952 – 1981), which was published in 1987.
Web page: Xulio Ricardo Trigo for AELC.
Translation: Julie Wark.
Photographs: AELC files and Xavier Gómez (El Temps).