Canigó is regarded as the best epic poem by Jacint Verdaguer (1845−1902), the most important Catalan writer of the 19th century and a leading figure of the Catalan renaissance. A Roman Catholic priest who served in a variety of pastoral positions, Verdaguer wrote mainly lyric and epic poetry, as well as a number of personal diaries, notebooks and journal articles. Canigó (named for Mount Canigou) is set in Catalonia at the beginning of the 11th century at the time of the Reconquista, the gradual liberation by the Christians of the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rule. The work reflects the trips that Verdaguer made to the Pyrenees between 1879 and 1895, and the sadness he felt at seeing the ruins of the monasteries of Sant Martí del Canigó and Sant Miquel de Cuixà. The poem tells the story of the son of Count Tallaferro, the young knight Gentil, who, for the love of Flordeneu, queen of the fairies, leaves the fight against the Saracens. Canigó is written in extraordinarily rich and affective language and versification, and it recovers a great number of neglected or forgotten words for use in the daily literary language. Presented here is the definitive version of the poem, written in Verdaguer’s hand in a great ruled notebook, shortly before its publication in 1886. The Biblioteca de Catalunya holds a large number of original materials related to this work of Verdaguer, including drafts, more or less completed versions with corrections, translations, and personal letters.

Last updated: January 13, 2015