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Letter from an alumnus about Monturiol not resurrected

October 20, 2004:

With respect to your recent article about Barcelonan inventor Narcis Monturiol (Reading Room, Sept. 15): Matthew Stewart ’85 may well have written about Monturiol, but “resurrect” him he most assuredly did not.

There is an entire chapter devoted to the life and work of Monturiol in Barcelona, art critic Robert Hughes’ magisterial history of the city, its civilization, and its people. Nor was Monturiol, as your article implies, the prime mover of Barcelona’s late-19th-century “renaissance.” He shares that honor with a variety of men (and, yes, they all were men) whom Hughes writes about — not the least of whom were the poets/churchmen Balmes and Verdaguer as well as several writers, professors, and publicists who helped establish the first Catalan-language newspapers and book publishers as well as the poetry contest known as the “jocs florals,” i.e., “flower games,” in which prizes were annually given for the best poem written in Catalan. Stewart’s book very likely expands upon Hughes’ book, and should be of interest to Catalanophiles such as me. The plaudits for resurrection, however, belong strictly to Hughes.

Michael Freedberg ’62
Salem, Mass.

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