In 1932 Josep Maria de Sagarra set out to write the great Catalan novel, an urban antidote to the rural tales and timid novels of customs that prevailed in the Catalan literature of the time. Private Life is the result: a scathing critique of the decadent and disappearing aristocratic class of Catalonia. Private Life holds up a mirror to the moral corruption in the interstices of the Barcelona high society Sagarra was born into. Boudoirs of demimonde tramps, card games dilapidating the fortunes of milquetoast aristocrats—and how they scheme to conceal them—fading manors of selfish scions, and back rooms provided by social-climbing seamstresses are portrayed in vivid, sordid, and literary detail.
The novel, practically a roman-à-clef for its contemporaries, was a scandal in 1932. The 1960s edition was bowdlerized by Franco’s censors. Part Lampedusa, part Genet, this translation will bring an essential piece of 20th-century European literature to the English-speaking public.