Catalan literature is, in the general order of Romance literatures, a singular case. Catalan is the only literature in the Mediterranean arc that, despite dating back like the others to the Middle Ages, has survived to the present day without the buttresses of a State of its own behind. It is singular too because its geographical domain covers Spain, Andorra, France, and even Italy, thanks to the Sardinian town of Alghero, a symbolic redoubt of this centuries-old persistence. The reason the map of Catalan literature crosses frontiers is that it corresponds to the historical territory of a medieval frontier province, that of the Crown of Catalonia and Aragon, and it survives today in a community of nine million speakers.
A century and a half after the Romantic revival, we can say with a bit of historical perspective that on the map of European letters, Catalan literature has taken a peculiar route: despite having enjoyed early splendour in the Middle Ages, it has arrived in time and in good health in the multicultural age, which should guarantee it the place it deserves in the world.
The Institució de les Lletres Catalanes - ILC (Institution for Catalan Literature) is an autonomous body of the Department for Culture of the Government of Catalonia founded by an act of the Catalan Parliament in 1987. The historic precedent of the ILC was the homonym organization created in the midst of the Civil War, in 1937, by Catalan writers devoted to the Republic.
In 2011 the Catalan Parliament passed an amendment of the Law setting up the ILC to adapt the Institució to the current political, cultural and administrative context. The States dof the ILC are organized in twenty articles and two final disposals and were approved by Decree 117/2012 of 9 October 2012. In its early days, in 1987, some responsibilities now transferred to subsequent created bodies such as the Institut Ramon Llull or the Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (ICEC) were given to the ILC.
The governing bodies of the ILC are the Governing Board, the doyen, the Advisory Committee and the Director. The Governing Board and the Advisory Committee are made up of the Administration and representatives of most of the professional associations of the sector.
The main objectives of the ILC are:
- To promote literature and reading in general.
- To protect and disseminate the Catalan literary patrimony.
- To encourage the social recognition of the Catalan literature and to give maximum projection to Catalan writers.
- To offer support to the Catalan writers and to the associations of the sector.
Under the new law, the functions to be carried out by the ILC, among many others, are:
- To take part in the measures for the promotion of reading and for the access to literature driven by the Catalan Government and to collaborate with other public bodies and private initiatives in this area.
- To prepare and to make public a biennial auditing on the cultural impact and the social return of the grants awarded in the area of the promotion of the Catalan literature.
- To submit a report on the public presence of literature and the social recognition of Catalan literature annually to the Catalan Minister of the Department for Culture and, at least, once per legislative term to the Parliament.
- To promote, in collaboration with the concerned organizations, the presence of the Catalan writers and literature in the education system and the public and private media.
In order to achieve the previously mentioned objectives, the ILC oversees grants to writers, translators, researchers, editors, etc.; sets up campaigns such as “Literature at School” or “Literature Alive” to promote Catalan writers in schools and cultural centres; holds literary exhibitions organizes seminars and one-day workshops; creates and updates a database about Catalan literature called “Who is who” and, in general terms, collaborates in activities and centres that promote literature and reading.