The short book that Josep Pla dedicated to Cadaques was first published in Catalan in 1947 by Juventud. It is one of the few pieces that remained untouched by Pla, editors or proof-readers over the decades.
The book consists of an amalgam of historical events, personal impressions and, of course, descriptive passages of the Cadaques landscape… reaching, perhaps, the quintessence of Pla’s style. Some of the best passages from all his work are found in this book.
Here is my translation of the preface to the book written by Pla.
A few words
THAT A BOOK SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT CADAQUES, or that a great, complete, perfect book shall one day be written about Cadaques is beyond dispute, I believe. Any discordance, scarcely worth mentioning. There are those who would rank Cadaques as one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean but, being of a discreet or bashful nature, would refrain from such announcements. While others, looking way beyond the Mediterranean, proclaim for all the world to hear that Cadaques is the most beautiful village on earth. Salvador Dalí, for one. Such grandiloquent expressions conceal a great longing, a noble majestic nostalgia.
If this chef d’oeuvre on Cadaques is therefore inevitable, I don’t believe for a moment that I’d be the agent designated by Providence for the task. Such undertakings require a certain calmness and steadfastness; traits that journalists, being unflinchingly capricious, do not possess. With this publication, therefore, let there be no doubt, I have but one aim: to remain true to my profession and provide others with some elements, details, adjectives—perhaps—for the book that they must write. All cultures possess an obscure but fundamental mission: to ensure their continuity. This book is nothing more therefore than a continuation of the work already done so that those who come afterwards can continue the effort.
The content is broken down into two essential elements: an interpretation of the history of Cadaques based on existing documentation and, secondly, an interpretation of the village itself and its landscape. At a time plagued with universalisations and gross generalisations, an account of what happened in this small seven or eight square kilometres over the years seemed like the most practical and entertaining approach.
This book is dedicated to all emigrant cadaquesencs, too numerous to be counted. They carry Cadaques with them at all times in their hearts and in their minds. If this little book can accompany them in some way, then I’m already renumerated.
I am greatly indebted to so many people for their help and advice, with special mention of Victor Rahola, to whom I am eternally grateful. Moltes gràcies.