Josep Pla and his friends Josep Martinell and Salvador Dalí

Josep Pla was not a pop singer. He was a great writer. Consequently, he was never awarded with that pathetic bagatelle called Nobel Prize in Literature.


Salvador Dalí was a great painter. He loved to paint all sorts of weird and wonderful dreams in the discombobulating hut that you can see in the pic bellow…


I know it on good authority…


Dalí’s paintings were pretty expensive. Once he recommended to his colleague and friend Josep Martinell to change his surname: “Josep, if you want to increase the price of your paintings, you should italianize your surname by adding an “i” to it. That is “Martinelli” in stead of “Martinell”.

The poor Josep Martinell did not follow Dalí’s suggestion and, consequently, he sold his paintings at reasonable prices, specially to his hordes of friends …


Josep Pla was a very good friend of both Dalí and Martinell. The three of them were born -and lived their creative lives- facing the Mediterranean Sea, in Empordà, Costa Brava …

I got some inspiration for writing this little post from four old books that I like very much…
1.  “Vida secreta de Salvador Dalí” (“The secret life of Salvador Dalí”): An hilarious auto-biography written by a genius of Art.

2. “Obres de museu” (“Museum works”): It is a nice book written by Josep Pla about his friend Dalí. Dalí liked so much Pla’s text, that he drew 22 illustrations for it.

3. “Escrits d’ahir” (“Writings from yesterday”): A selection of articles previously published in local media, written by Josep Martinell.

4. “Josep Pla vist per un amic de Palafrugell” (“Josep Pla as viewed by a friend from Palafrugell”): A self-explaining title for a really charming book, written by Josep Martinell.

Sadly, only “The secret life of Salvador Dalí” is available in English. The other three books -those written by Pla and Martinell- are available only in Catalan. To be precise, such literary jewels, even in their original versions, are almost impossible to find in these illiterate times…


Llofriu is a nice rural village located very close to Palafrugell.


Josep Pla spent quite a few years of his productive live writing at his country home (called “Mas Pla”) in Llofriu. He died there on April 23, 1981.

There is a plaque/badge in Llofriu honoring its neighbor Josep Pla:

Very near of both Llofriu and Palafrugell there is a small fishing (they fish fishes and tourists, indistinctly) village named Llafranc …

On the beach of Llafranc you can see the traditional boats …


… and the traditional tourists …


There is a little harbor too …


By the way, in Llafranc lived (and died on June 6, 2013) Tom Sharpe, English novelist famous for his Wilt series. But this post is not about Mr. Sharpe. It is about Pla, Dalí and Martinell.

Josep Martinell enjoyed quite a few paellas here in Llafranc, at Llevant’s, facing the blue sea (pic below) …

Martinell was a very cultivated person, an avid reader (he particularly enjoyed French literature), a talented painter, designer, decorator, writer … and, above all, he was a very good person. I know it on good authority.

A street in Llafranc is named after Josep Martinell …

Pla, Dalí and Martinell, the three of them, belonged to a breed of Mediterranean creators that I am afraid left no heirs on this planet …

Dalí jewels

If, according to The Paris Review,  Josep Pla is “a well-kept secret of twentieth century European literature” … What would they say about Josep Martinell?

At least, and thanks God, Dalí reached the fame he deserved. His paintings shine in some of the best museums of the world.

With this unsubstantial, desultory and haphazard post I put an end to my unsubstantial, desultory and haphazard series on Josep Pla. It took me long time to get such a poor result, but it was really difficult for me to write in English about such a giant of Literature.

(Josep Pla’s tomb is in the cemetery of Llofriu. Just below his name there is a simple word: “escriptor”, which means “writer”)


About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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8 Responses to Josep Pla and his friends Josep Martinell and Salvador Dalí

  1. Linda Duffin says:

    Thanks for this. As your English is much better than my Spanish or Catalan, do you know if there’s a good English translation of Joseph Pla’s books please? Bad translations can put you off for life …

  2. harri8here says:

    Very happy to read you again, C2T, and to look again through your eyes. Pla-tastic. :-)))))

  3. Well, I am glad you persisted as I have learned a lot and want to learn more.
    My Catalan is primitive but I am persistent, so next time in Spain I shall see if I can find any of the books…my lawyer is a cultivated man, he might look out for them for me…

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for your comment, Helen. Pla wrote very good books in Spanish too (Viaje en autobús, Guía de la Costa Brava, etc). And lots of books originally written in Catalan were superbly translated into Spanish, under the supervision of Pla himself. Anyway, if you want to read Pla in Catalan, your lawyer’s main problem will be what book to pick among a myriad of marvels.

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