May 25, 1961|
Lleida, Catalonia, Spain
|Genre||Mixture of genres: novel + short story + theatre|
|Notable works||A House to Compose, Mistana, To the vertigo.|
|Notable awards||Premi Crítica Catalana (2005)
Premio Internacional Ensayo Siglo XXI (2010)
Núria Perpinyà Filella (Catalan pronunciation: ['nuriə perpi'ŋa fi'leʎə]; born 1961) is a Spanish novelist, a playwright and an essayist who works as a professor at the University of Lleida in Catalonia, Spain. Her novels deal with unusual topics and are characterized by their intellectual irony, formal rigor and experimentalism. In her books, she defends the philosophy of Perspectivism and reflects on the fact that the phenomena have multiple interpretations. Her creative work is written in Catalan, but most of the essays are published in Spanish or in English.
Núria Perpinyà Filella was born in Lleida, May 25, 1961 and lived in this town until she finished her degree in Catalan Studies in 1984. She got married and moved to Cáceres, then to London and Madrid. Despite her changes of residence, she worked as a professor at the University of Lleida. First, she taught Catalan literature and then literary theory and comparative literature. In 1986, at the age of 25, she published her first book: an essay about a Catalan realist poet from the 1960s, Gabriel Ferrater, written in collaboration with Xavier Macià, under the title The poetry of Gabriel Ferrater. This work won the Catalan Essay Prize Josep Vallverdú. In 1989, Perpinyà received the Extraordinary Prize for her PhD thesis from the University of Barcelona for research on Ferrater. She became one of his main specialists. In 1998, she published her first novel, A Good Mistake, where was already shown "the complexity and the elaboration that will characterize the rest of her novels”. In A House to Compose (2001), Perpinyà developed a new genre half way between a story and a novel. Mistana (2005), much more fantastic, was awarded a National Critics Prize. In The Privileged (2007), she opted, once more, for a renovation of literary genres with a dramatic novel. In the year 2010, she launched her first theatre play, The Calligraphers. Her most famous novel is To the vertigo (2013).
Style and subjects
The work of Núria Perpinyà is a mixture of intellectual reflections and irony. Her style has been labelled as “a magmatic writing style”, and it has been characterized by “a control of the composition, a linguistic precision and originality of the actions”. In each of her books, Perpinyà has challenged herself with different experiments: A Good Mistake is a thriller based on readers’ false suppositions. In A House to compose, she explored a new literary genre: a “fragmented novel” which, even though belonging to a Composite Novel or Short story cycle, it provided the novelty of a chain of stories that they turned over into chapters of a novel. This fusion of genres reappeared in The Privileged where the narrative and the dramatic style cohabited side by side.
Regarding the themes, Perpinyà has dedicated each book to a concrete topic. A Good Mistake is a love story in the world of science; A House to Compose recreates the world of music and architecture; The Privileged is about art and museums; The Calligraphers is about the university; and Mistana deals with the madness. Her last novel, To the Vertigo, the most romantic and pictorial one, is another important twist in her trajectory. She substituted – at least apparently – her intellectual world for the sport.
The first book of fiction by Perpinyà, Un bon error (A Good Mistake) related the life of a young man who moved to laboratory in London and fell in love with a black scientist. The protagonist, Joan Xammar, must overcome two obstacles: the one of the gender and the one of race.
A House to Compose (2001), is a story about a Pianist who was looking for a flat. In this novel about music, Perpinyà “dares to weave a multi-faceted plot”, and “while the protagonist passes through different kinds of housing – a garret, a duplex, an attic – (…) there is a kind of a musical whirlwind in her head”. The book had also an unusual structure: chained stories that ended up merging into a novel. The plot was the quête of the protagonist, Olivia Kesler, who was “a misanthrope of her art and a female Odysseus”. The novel is a crossword of genres and worlds: music, architecture and literature. A House to Compose is a harsh but comical critic to the architectonic dictatorship and suggested a romantic opposition between the artist and the society. The composer Olivia Kesler did not find her creative space in a society that was architectonically hostile to her.
In the third novel by Perpinyà, Mistana (National Critics Prize 2005), the realism was abandoned and the author opted for a fantastic style. The book narrated a story about a meteorologist with mental disorders who fell into misfortune when he arrived at a phantasmal town called Mistana with an everlasting Fog, inhabited by eccentric characters. An extreme climatology that evoked her home town, Lleida. The novel was “a tragedy about madness written in crescendo rhythm of delirious verses in prose” that has been labelled as “vertiginous and breathtaking”  and as a “hypnotic and radical novel”. As Maria Dasca said, Mistana was “an unbridled fiction, tragic and comic at the same time” with a philosophical fog where “the things lose appearances and a man does not know who he is anymore”.
In 2013 To the Vertigo appeared, a novel about love between mountaineers. The protagonists were obsessive idealists isolated from the society. The plot revolved around loves of a solitary mountain climber, Irena Besikova. The novel suggested two important discussions: the one of passion and Feminism. The epistolary style developed until it became an adventure novel that, in the last chapters, adopted an unexpected metaliterary dimension. To the Vertigo was critically acclaimed.
In 2007, The Privileged appeared. It is a comical dramatic novel in which the author thought about art, adopting a point of view of the guards in a Museum. The story narrated a restructuring of an old-fashioned museum into an Avant-garde museum, the sceptical attitudes of the guards towards the modern art, and the labour conflicts. The plot passed through vicissitudes of the main character, Mr. Serivà, a genuine, tragic and anti-heroic guard. The irony of the book is addressed to the ignorant audience and the art as a business and political platform. As Ponç Puigdevall said, the novel proofed the effort of the author “to discover new literary territories where the accuracy does not contradict the entertainment”.
The Calligraphers (2010) is a tragicomedy about Philosophy of Education in Arts. The plot revolved around the closure of a University Department of Ancient Calligraphy and its substitution for a new degree in criminal calligraphic studies. This modernization of the University provoked tensions between the professors and it revealed jealousy and revenges. The play was opened in Lleida, at Escorxador Theatre, December 15, 2010, under the direction of Óscar Sánchez and it was performed by Imma Colomer, Pep Planas, Núria Casado and Ferran Farré.
Essay: a humanistic relativism
Among Perpinyà’s academic researches, it is worth to mention the studies on a Catalan poet of the sixties, Gabriel Ferrater, a friend of Gil de Biedma and Carlos Barral. An atypical intellectual who had an important influence on the following generations similar to Robert Graves, Robert Frost or W.H. Auden. In her study Gabriel Ferrater: Reception and Contradiction (1997), Perpinyà analyzed the myth of Ferrater and did a deconstruction of the Catalan criticism. A polemic book “dedicated to all the sceptical readers who realize that, in the literary criticism, nothing completely innocent is ever said”.
Perpinyà reappeared in 2008 with “a demythologizing essay”. The Crypts of Criticism: Twenty Readings of The Odyssey; this book offered a wide view on different schools of Literary Theory. Written in “a casual style”, this essay particularly exemplified the theory with examples: twenty different interpretations about the Greek masterpiece.
The defense of humanistic Relativism can also be observed in her novels in which a kaleidoscope of attitudes related to a particular topic often appeared. In 2010, Perpinyà won an international essay prize for 21st-century editorial of Mexico for her work More than a Machine. This essay is about education that extended from the Age of Enlightenment to the present days, and it pleaded for a creative learning against a routine one.
In 2014, Perpinya published her essay on Romanticism: "Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness" (2014) which analyzes the Romantic interest in the Middle Ages, from the eighteenth century to the successful series Game of Thrones. Also, one of the theses of the book is considered Romantic, Ruins's pictures as a precedent of Avant-garde's Ugliness.
- 1998: A Good Mistake (Un bon error, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 2001: A House to Compose (Una casa per compondre, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 2005: Mistana (Mistana, Barcelona, Proa)
- 2007: The Privileged (Els privilegiats, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 2013: To the Vertigo (Al vertigen, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 2007: The Privileged (Els privilegiats, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 2011: The Calligraphers (Els Cal.lígrafs, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 1986: The Poetry of Gabriel Ferrater (La poesia de Gabriel Ferrater, Barcelona, Edicions 62; with Xavier Macià)
- 1991: The Theory of Bodies, of Gabriel Ferrater (Teoria dels cossos, de Gabriel Ferrater, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 1997: Gabriel Ferrater: Reception and Contradiction (Gabriel Ferrater: recepció i contradicció, Barcelona, Empúries)
- 2008: The Crypts of Criticism: Twenty Readings of The Odyssey (Las criptas de la crítica: veinte lecturas de la Odisea, Madrid, Gredos)
- 2010: More than a Machine (Más que una máquina, Mexico, Siglo XXI)
- 2014: Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness. Five Romantic perceptions of the Middle Ages and a spoonful of Game of Thrones and Avant-garde oddity (Berlin, Logos Verlag).
- 1984: Catalan Essay Prize Josep Vallverdú.
- 2005: National Catalan Critics Prize.
- 2010: International Essay Prize Editorial Siglo XXI Mexico.
- 2015: Marguerite Yourcenar Writer's Residence.
- Ramon Vidal, Abel, Web Associació Escriptors en Llengua Catalana (AELC) http://www.escriptors.cat/autors/perpinyan
- Bou, Enric, «Para supervivientes», El Periódico, 14-VII-05.
- Pagès, Vicenç, «Temàtica helicoïdal», Presència, 14-III-98.
- "Reader-Response Criticism Terms and Principles" goucher.edu
- Dunn, Maggie, Morris, Ann, The composite novel. The Short Story Cycle in Transition, New York: Twayne, 1995.
- Perpinyà, Núria. "A Good Mistake". Archived from the original on 2014-08-27. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- A House to Compose
- Fernández Bustos, Ernesto, «Nuevo Talento FNAC 2002» http://www.clubcultura.com/nuevotalento/nuevo talento.htm
- Miquel, Dolors, Entrevista a La Verge Peluda, 1 i mig, 2002.
- Guillamon, Julià. «Vértigo en la niebla», La Vanguardia, 6-07-05.
- Castells, Ada, «Núria Perpinyà novel·la l'absurd enmig de la boira», Avui, 23-VII-2005; Isern, Joan Josep, «Una novel.la hipnòtica i radical», Avui, 12-X-05.
- Dasca, Maria, «Mistana / Guia de Lectura», Revista de Catalunya, 210, novembre 2005.
- To the Vertigo
- Juanico, Núria, “El vertigen de Irena Besikova”, Núvol, 15-X-2013; Ruiz Guillamon, Julià, “Duelo en la cima”, La Vanguardia, 4-XII-2013; Nopca, Jordi, “Núria Perpinyà reescriu el Romanticisme”, Ara, 5-X-2013.
- The Privileged
- Jaruchik, Esdres, «Rient de l'art i de qui el vetlla», Benzina, octubre 2007.
- Puigdevall, Ponç, «Horrors silenciosos», El País, 6-IX-07.
- The Calligraphers
- Alonso, H., «Recepció, contradicció i biografia: més sobre Ferrater», Llengua i Literatura, 10, 1999.
- Rojo, José Andrés, «Ulises, el primer turista sexual», El País, 18-II-08.
- Villanueva, Darío, «Las criptas de la crítica. 20 interpretaciones de la Odisea», El Mundo, 17-IV-08.
- International essay
- Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness
- Abrams, Sam. "Teatre i literatura". El Mundo. 09-06-2011.
- Batista, Antoni. “El boom de novelas con música”. La Vanguardia. 23-XI-2001.
- Bou, Enric. “Veintiún lecturas de la Odisea”. PRL. New York. October–November 2009.
- Casamajó, Gemma. “Els Cal.lígrafs”. Time Out, 30. 19–25 June 2011.
- Dasca, Maria. «Mistana / Guia de Lectura». Revista de Catalunya, 210. November 2005.
- Galves, Jordi. “Veinte maneras de leer la “Odisea”. La Vanguardia. Culturas. 07-05-2008.
- Garzón, Ricard. “El cim des de l'abisme”. El País. 17-X-2013.
- González Vaquerizo, Helena. “Nuria Perpinya, Las criptas de la critica. Veinte interpretaciones de la Odisea”. Minerva. Revista de Filología Clásica. Universidad de Valladolid. 2008, 21: 235-238.
- Guillamon, Julià. «Vértigo en la niebla». La Vanguardia. 06-07-2005.
- Hernández Bustos, Ernesto, “Una casa (no sólo) para componer”, FNAC / Clubcultura.com.01-02-2002.
- Jaruchik, Esdres. "Rient-se del mort i del qui et vetlla". Benzina, 20. October 2007.
- Not, Anton. "Per escriure bé no hi ha res prohibit". La Mañana. 16-IV-06.
- Pagès Jordà, Vicenç. “Amor i culpa a les altures”. El Periódico. 25-IX-2013.
- Pla, Xavier. “Els criats avantguardistes”, Avui, 13-IX-2007.
- Puigdevall, Ponç. “L’estímul de la dificultat”. El País. 23-06-05.
- Salom, Jeroni. “¿Com hem (mal) llegit Gabriel Ferrater?", Diario de Mallorca, 31-X-1997.
Writer interviews Canal 33. Anna Guitart. Viallibre. Cap. 73. 13-10-2013. Min. 10.
- Waita TV. 3-X-2013.
The author on the web Association of writers in the Catalan Language (AELC).
Recordings of the author’s voice at the Audio Library of Marius Torres Chair at the University of Lleida.