Farewell to Joaquim Mallafrè, historic lecturer of Catalan language and literature at the URV and translator of universal works into Catalan

An academic referent in Catalonia and Europe, he is responsible for the translations into Catalan of James Joyce's Ulysses and the complete theatrical work of Samuel Beckett

Joaquim Mallafré, en una jornada de la Càtedra Josep Anton Baixeras de Patrimoni Literari Català de la URV, l'any 2017.
Joaquim Mallafrè, at a talk given by the URV's Josep Anton Baixeras Chair of Catalan Literary Heritage, in 2017.

This Thursday Joaquim Mallafrè passed away at the age of 82. He was a lecturer in the Department of Catalan Studies when the URV was founded, and also of the UB division in Tarragona, until he retired in 2006. Mallafré translated works by universal authors such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Rudyard Kipling, and Laurence Sterne into Catalan.

James Joyce’s Ulysses and Dubliners, Samuel Beckett’s complete theatrical works and such great English classics as Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy can be read in Catalan thanks to his translations. He explained that his interest in Ulysses was aroused by what he read in text books on literature, which described Joyce’s work as a milestone of the 20th century. But it was unavailable in Franco’s Spain. It was through this translation that he discovered that Catalan, his first language, could be used for all purposes.

Mallafrè graduated in Philosophy and Arts in 1964 at the UB, worked as a lecturer in Ludlow (England) in the academic year 1967-1968 and obtained his PhD in Romance Studies at the UB in 1988. He taught English in a secondary school and then at university, where he combined his career as a translator with his academic duties until he became one of the foremost linguists in Catalan and European universities.

He joined the Institute for Catalan Studies in 1991, and was awarded the Catalan Saint George’s Cross in 1998 and the City Medal of the Reus City Council in 2007 for his work as a translator and lecturer and his commitment to Catalan culture.

He was a leading lecturer in the URV’s Department of Catalan Studies, and a symposium was held in September 2022 on his work as a translator. URV Publications published the work Traces, in which Mallafrè offers a taste of some of the verses and poems that he translated into Catalan.

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