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Published by EF041008 on 2009/6/21

Carles Riba i Bracons was born in Barcelona in 1893. Famous poet, he remained an ardent defender of the Catalan language. 

Carles Riba i Bracons was born in Barcelona in 1893. He studied law and philosophy at the University of Barcelona.

He was barely 18 when he began to translate Virgil’s “Bucolics” which earned him a prize to Girona. It was in this city that he met his future wife, the poetess Clementina Arderiu.He tirelessly translated Homer, but also Sophocles, Eschylus, Xenophon and some biblical texts. He also took on Edgar Allan Poe, translating his “Extraordinary Tales.”

He began his first poems in 1912. He wrote his “First Book of Stanzas” (El Prime Libre d’estances) in 1919, and then “Stanzas.” He undertook voyages to Italy and Germany in 1920, where he perfected his studies in Classics. He studied with Karl Vossler, the German linguist.
In 1923, he entered the Lexicographic Office of the Institute of Catalan Studies where he worked to compile a dictionary of the Catalan language under the direction of Pompeu Fabra whom he replaced until 1939.

From Francesc Cambo, he obtained the Greek Chair of the Bernat Metge Foundation in 1925. There he could satisfy his passion for hellenism. He continued his career at the Institute for Catalan Studies where he was named Vice-President.
The arrival of Franco’s forces in Barcelona in 1939 led to his decision to flee to France, going to Bordeaux and to Montpellier.

In the “Elegies to Bierville” (1942), he expressed the pain of exile, taking Greek meter (hexameter) as his inspiration, but also turning to Rilke and Hölderin.
He went back to Barcelona in 1943 and began again to write and publish poems in Catalan.

He tried out new literary genres like the Japanese poetic style of “tanka.” His style is more infused with religiosity and with personal dialogues with God, like in “Savage Heart” (Salvatage Cor 1952) and “Sketches of three Oratorios” (Esbos de tres oratoris, 1957).

Until his death in 1959, he remained an ardent defender of the Catalan language.

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