Foreword by Antoni Rovira i Virgili to the book «Catalunya i l’Europa futura» («Catalonia and the future Europe»)

Foreword by Antoni Rovira i Virgili to the book «Catalunya i l’Europa futura» («Catalonia and the future Europe»). Pages 3 to 6.

Every time I have gone to Figueres, high town of Alt Empordà, either as a lecturer or on political business, I have had to limit my stay to a few hours. In spite of being pressed for time in my journeys, I have been able to greet old friends and to meet young new ones. In 1930, on the occasion of a political meeting, among other young men of Figueres we met Alexandre Deulofeu who, during the conversation, appeared to be a select spirit, active, keen on political and social studies. Last year, after a conference I gave on cultural matters, in the circle of friends which stayed after that, my dear friend Puig i Pujades, the leader of the liberal and Catalanist intelligentsia, mentioned a work which dealt with the universal problem of nations, which had been written by Alexandre Deulofeu. That was for me a pleasant surprise.

The Figueres people, which are the most distinctive representatives of the Empordà region, have a strong proclivity to discussion and polemics. They are enthusiastic, talkative and full of fighting spirit. They feel the pleasure of dialogue and the attraction of debate. Those who simplify in excess the definition of the Catalan character, define our people as reserved and sparing in words. This definition would leave out of the authentic Catalanity the very Catalan peoples of Empordà, of the Tarragona region, and of others of our regions…

What a discussion with fifteen voices that evening! Alexandre Deulofeu, with the faith of a young man confident of his truth, submitted the main ideas contained in his book. Some were acclaimed unanimously, others were received with a mixture of support and dissent. I felt captivated seeing that those subjects of political principles and historical interpretation were raised and discussed in the little hall of a provincial political club. And since my heart went out to them, I took part in the friendly discussion.

All my sympathy was for that group of friends who were so excited by ideological matters, and all my appreciation went to that young Figueres man, fed on books and well meditated, who had studied the problem of nationalities with the noble ambition of finding the deep causes and the fundamental laws of the historical evolution of the world.

My admiration for Alexandre Deulofeu grew all the more when I found that he was a perfect Catalan and an essentially left-wing man. In his words and in his ideas one could observe the fullness of his patriotic conscience and the deep link of the nationalistic notion with the liberal and democratic notion. This sort of Catalans are not very abundant. Even many devoted patriots, and many literary and political Catalanists show the sad influence which the denationalization times have left on their souls. I was delighted to find in that regional town such a well-formed spirit as that of Alexandre Deulofeu.

—Would you like me to send you my book? I would like to have your opinion— the young author told me.

I accepted his fond offering and a few weeks later I had on my work table the manuscript of his book.

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The essential Catalanity of the author can already be felt in the first pages of his work, which show a praiseworthy boldness. His field of study is Europe at large, but his spiritual centre is Catalonia. A position as a national and liberal Catalan, which means a European and universalistic Catalan. The author is fully aware of his position, and therefore is conscious of the shortcomings of many of today’s Catalans, along time and space, along history and geography. By studying the succeeding centuries and the numerous peoples, Alexandre Deulofeu thinks of Catalonia, stays in his national viewpoint. He sees that it is necessary to free Catalonia, not only from the state or political submission, but also from the moral submission included in the ugly flaw of provincialism. Citizens who are not national, are provincial. Who is not his own lord, is somebody else’s servant.

Conscious and brave, Deulofeu declares that it is absolutely necessary to carry out the task to completely wake up the Catalan national conscience. And he states that the pages of his book «are basically addressed to this end».

In this foreword I am not going to make a review of the very interesting book written by Deulofeu. In all things essential I consider it admirably oriented. Some specific details and several categorical affirmations appear to me to be questionable. Deulofeu is a man of a great mental integrity, probably he will in future correct some of his present day opinions. In the analysis of ideas and in the lessons from events he will find reasons to consider again the most difficult problems, and if proper he will amend some of the theses that he now defends.

***

One of the author’s good choices is to place the subject of Catalonia in a European and world frame. In this way he contributes a further proof of the universal character of the nation and of the international value of patriotic causes. The limited and captive spirits, those who are backward and isolated, are not national Catalans. The Catalonia-nation is an element of the moral oneness of Europe. The Catalonia-province (or the Catalonia-region, which deep down are the same thing), is the servant of a nation with a larger territory, and it has no participation nor personality in the universal body of cultures.

In the first chapter of the book Alexandre Deulofeu starts with the Catalonia-nation and reaches naturally, as through a straight path, the great problem of the universal confederation. It is a logical and biological course. A flying course. Those who thrive in the dark lowliness of provincialism or regionalism will never go that far — neither in the field of reality nor in that of thought. National Catalonia, with its independent spirit, has a place among the group of free peoples, even if it has not an official place among the gilt of diplomatic jackets. True universalism is not that of diplomacy, it is that of culture and of spirit.

Antoni Rovira i Virgili.
Barcelona, March 1934
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