|Subject: Re: literary connections Spain|
A different tactic for making a literary connection to Spain is to read
some translated Spanish literature (or better yet read it in Spanish if
you are able). Who could better know the Spanish than a Spaniard?
For a glimpse into the middle ages read El libro de buen amor by the archpriest of Hita, Juan Ruiz. A satirical autobiography written in a similar style to his English contemporary Geoffery Chaucer.
On the eve of the Golden Age (16th &17th century) of Spanish literature Fernando de Rojas wrote his tragic story La Celestina about the doomed love of two nobles and their scheming go-between. A realistic view of a Spanish city during the Renaissance. Well suited for those who enjoy Shakespeare.
Of course the greatest work of the Golden Age is Cervantes' Don Quixote de la Mancha. The original post was somewhat dismissive of this work (perhaps post-traumatic stress as a result of high school or college courses) but well worth another read (much easier to enjoy without mid-term or final exams looming). Arguably the most influential work on the subsequent development of the novel.
A darker view of Spain during the Golden Age can be witnessed in two picaresque novels of the era Lazarillo de Tormes (Anonymous) and The Life and Adventures of Buscon by Francisco Gómez de Quevedo.
For fans of drama the Golden Age was highlighted by the comedia, a three act play combining tragedy and comedy. Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina (who formalized the legendary character of Don Juan), and Calderón were the premiere dramatists of the era.
For lovers of Romanticism Spain offers few works, the most notable being the play Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla.
The realistic novels of the second half of the 19th century are a wonderful insight into Spain during the loss of empire. Nobody interpreted Madrid as well as Benito Pérez Galdós. This outstanding novelist, little read in english-speaking countries is well worth the effort to find his translated works. His Episodios nacionales are 46 historical novels detailing contemporary history and the social, religious, and political problems of the era. His recurring character, Torquemada (not the Inquisitor), is an icon in the manner of Dickens' Scrooge.
Other novelists of the era worth investgation include José María de Pereda for his portrayal of life in Santander, Countess Emilia Pardo Bazán for her accounts of life in Galicia, and Clárin for his novel La Regenta a naturalist novel in the style of Zola.
The Generation of 1898 was a diverse group of Spaniards who were highly critical of Spain's being left behind by the progress throughout the rest of Europe. Their call for liberalization and modernization is reflected in the writings of existentialist philosopher Unamuno, aestheticist playwright Valle-Inclán, and Basque novelist Pío Baroja in his 20 volume series, Memories of a Man of Action.
The twentieth-century works should begin with a reading of the works of Federico García Lorca drawing from the legends and stereotypes Andalucia. For a look at Madrid after the civil war read Cela's La Colmena.
Since the demise of Franco the modern novel has flourished in Spain. That is true of all the arts. Investigate Spanish culture. Find translations. Don't depend on outsiders for your only insight into a new culture. Go to the source. Reading some literature from another country may just open up a whole new treasury of works for you.
How about it Covadonga? Any recommendations? Perhaps Obabakoak by Bernardo Atxaga?
John Rule San Diego, CA