39 Following


Currently reading

Taiga?s True Views: The Language of Landscape Painting in Eighteenth-Century Japan by Melinda Takeuchi (1994-06-01)
Melinda Takeuchi
The History of England, Vol 2
David Hume
The History of Scepticism: From Savonarola to Bayle
Richard H. Popkin
Cicero: On Moral Ends (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Raphael Woolf, Julia Annas
Das Goldene Vlies: Dramatisches Gedicht in Drei Abteilungen
Franz Grillparzer
Euripides IV: Rhesus / The Suppliant Women / Orestes / Iphigenia in Aulis
Charles R. Walker, Frank William Jones, William Arrowsmith, David Grene, Euripides, Richmond Lattimore
Notes from Underground & The Double
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jesse Coulson
The World of Thought in Ancient China
Benjamin I. Schwartz
The Last Generation of the Roman Republic
Erich S. Gruen
The Legend of Gold and Other Stories
William J. Tyler, Jun Ishikawa, Ishikawa Jun

Stone in a Landslide , by Maria Barbal

Stone in a Landslide - Maria Barbal, Paul Mitchell, Laura McGloughlin


Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.


- Matthew, 5:13



The phrase "salt of the earth" is used in so many ways, and a quick web search yields little consensus. I personally use it to mean "a decent, dependable, unpretentious person," and it is in this sense that the narrator, nicknamed Conxa, of the novella Pedra de tartera (2008; translated into English as Stone in a Landslide) by the Catalan author, Maria Barbal (b. 1949), is the salt of the earth. 


With quick, calm strokes Barbal sketches the life of a girl in the Catalan mountains in the early 20th century - the hard work, nearly inexistent education, early marriage and quick succession of births, the passing of generations. In other words, the hardscrabble life of the overwhelming majority of humanity until quite recently. As if the struggle with Nature were not hard enough, the magic word "republic" reaches even the miniscule mountain village where Conxa lives with her growing brood. Then History arrives, and she isn't kind.


Conxa understands nothing of the "reasons" for all this, but she well understands the tragic consequences for her family...


But life must go on, even if it is a reduced life, a resigned life, one in which time takes its relentless toll, even though for Conxa time came to a halt one morning in 1939. How well Barbal tells this part, and how speechless one is left at the end when time and change have taken all of her life away. The savor has gone and the tramping of feet is nigh.