An enchanted barcelona mirrored in fiction


  • Joan Ramon Resina Universitat de València


The novel is a product of the bourgeoisie’s interest in the empirical mastery of reality. From the start, writing on reality took a forking path. On one side, it became journalism; on the other, it took the form of the novel. But whereas journalism intervenes in the reality that it mediates, the novel focuses on the characters’ subjectivity. Journalism seeks to capture facts in their evanescence, while the novel lingers on the details of the milieu and the psychological folds of the action. Such attention to the temporality of events privileges urban space. As is the case in other literatures, the convergence of novel, journalism, and city is amply represented in Catalan novels, where Barcelona is the ostensible subject and the action a pretext for the author’s interest in minuting the broad facts of urban life. A significant number of contemporary novels about Barcelona use places and scenes that were previously mythologized. Their authors show fondness for a narrow strip of history covering about a century and a half. Locked within these temporal limits, the Catalan novel evinces little capacity to generate new myths. Neither the chronotope of the mythologized Barcelona of the 1980s nor those of the Rose of Fire or of the city under the dictatorship are of any use for the Barcelona that is now recovering from the deep economic crisis of the 2010s and leading the greatest political crisis of the post-Franco state. Entangled in historicism and in the cult of modernity, the novel is still seeking the narrative paradigm of the present time.


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Biografia de l'autor/a

Joan Ramon Resina, Universitat de València

Joan Ramon Resina has a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and a
doctorate in English Philology from the Universitat de Barcelona. He has been a professor in different universities
both in the United States and in Europe and is currently a member of the Department of Comparative Literature
and the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Stanford University. His major awards include the
Donald Andrews Whittier Scholarship from the Stanford Humanities Center, the International Kolleg Morphomata
Scholarship from the Center for Advanced Studies in the University of Cologne, the Fulbright and Alexander von
Humboldt Scholarships, and the Serra d’Or award for critical literature. He has written nine books and published ten
collective volumes, in addition to publishing more than 160 critical essays in magazines and collective volumes, and
150 articles for the daily press. Between 1998 and 2004 he was editor-in-chief of the cultural theory journal Diacritics
and is currently a member of the editorial boards of several European and US journals and a reviewer for several
academic journals.




Com citar

Resina, J. R. (2019) “An enchanted barcelona mirrored in fiction”, Debats. Revista de cultura, poder i societat, 3. Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2023).