In Our World
Some of you may wonder why I decided to make Catalan the language spoken in most of the other world.
Maybe you did not realize that Beyond the Dream is a translation from Més enllà del somni, written in Catalan. Well, Catalan is my language and I wrote the book in my language. Later it was translated into English by the Canadian author Caroline Roe.
Now, perhaps, you may want to find out about this language. What language is Catalan?
Catalan is one of the Western Romance languages -as is French or Spanish or Italian- and is spoken in Catalonia and other Catalan Countries since the Middle Ages. By the 12th century Catalan was spoken in Catalonia (north and south of the Pyrenees). During the 13th and 14th centuries it spread its dominion throughout Valencia and several areas of the Mediterranean, particularly the Balearic Islands. Although the first written documents appeared in the 12th century, Catalan literature flourished from the 13th century onwards. It is a language actually spoken by around 10 million people; clearly not a minority language. Furthermore, literature written in Catalan encompasses thousands of works and is of a very high standard. Many of these works have been translated into other languages, some of them in English. Below you have a couple of exemples.
Mercè Rodoreda is considered by many to be the most important Catalan novelist of the postwar period. Her novel La plaça del diamant (“The diamond square’, translated as The Time of the Doves, 1962) has become the most acclaimed Catalan novel of all time and since the year it was published for the first time, it has been translated into over 20 languages. It is also considered by many to be best novel dealing with the Spanish Civil War. (click the book for more information)
Written from a totalising perspective, Espriu’s work has taken on the form of an “encyclopaedic summa”, of the classical epics and great contemporary authors: Eliot, Pound, Joyce, etc. Perhaps the most important virtue and, ultimately, originality of Espriu has been his capacity to reconcile, in the same unitary work, the spiritual problems of man, with metaphysical resonances, with his fate as a member of a group subjected to social and political tensions, while posing the great questions of justice and liberty. (click the book for more information)
In the Other World
Although you now know about Catalan, you may still be asking yourselves why I chose it as the common language for the other world.
I just explained that Catalan is my language and that I wrote Beyond the Dream in this language, therefore it stands to reason that I chose this language and not another. But why does the other world need a common language anyway? Well, because it is easier to develop the novel, to avoid boring and endless explanations and to mantain a sort of logic througout the story.
Before writing the novel I was thinking about how I could create a story where the characters in another world would be from many different countries and should understand each other. The answer came almost at once: a common language! And that language should be, of course, Catalan.
I also needed this common language to be understood by the main character from our world. In Beyond the Dream, Anna, the main character, knows Catalan. Although Anna is from English Canada, her parents were born in Catalonia and she speaks this language with them. Her classmate Alison, who also travels to the other world, learns Catalan in order to understand the people there.
The readers of the novel may remember that another language is present in the other world: English, spoken only by the inhabitants of Gelgel. This addition was useful for allowing Anna and Alison to better understand their new surroundings. It also gave a bit of linguistic diversity to that world.
In our world Catalan is well known by the people of the Catalan Countries but not as well by other people, while English is a very strong language and everybody knows at least of its existence. Ironically, in Beyond the Dream Catalan gets the upper hand by becoming the common language of the majority of a whole world.