|Subject: Spain and literature|
Hi, John (and Natalie, who originated this thread).
Absolutely impressive list (although still I haven´t been able to get
through La Celestina, and Cela can be a Nobel prize winner, but...).
Talking about the Golden Age, this is the year of Calderón de la Barca.
Plenty of his works on the theatre. I am looking forward to La vida es
sueño this November in our home theatre, Arriaga, in a joint production
of the National Drama Centre, the Edinburgh Festival and the Barbican
Centre. Lope de Vega can have his up and downs... so many plays, probably
better in comedy.
If you can read spanish, you should try the poetry of Quevedo (a really
acid satirist and on the other side, some of the best love poems in our
language), San Juan de la Cruz or Garcilaso de la Vega. The lives of all
these men sound like an adventure novel: duels, prisons, wars, love...
Amazing that they could take the time to write and became the Golden Age
of spanish literature.
Romanticism had a few more writers, such as Espronceda or Becquer (easy
poetry for the school, and really weepy), but the losses of 1898 brought
to us a big generation. Unamuno has, not counting his complicated novels,
a few good travel books on Spain and Portugal. Por tierras de Portugal
y de España, one of them, gives a good insight in the land and in the
writers of Portugal (another part of your question, Natalie).
Probably Baroja would be easier, specially his novels about the life of
the fishermen and pirates from the Basque Country during the last century.
And now a big jump into today´s spanish literature. I would look for novels
written by people like Javier Marias, Antonio Muñoz Molina or Arturo Perez-Reverte
(specially the Alatriste serie, although I think it hasn´t yet been translated
into English). I have a soft spot for Reverte. I guess it comes from watching
him in TV running under the bullets in Eritrea, Libanon or Sarajevo, but
his novels are good fun. Old-fashioned adventures, swords, misteries...
And yes, Bernardo Atxaga can be interesting, but I like more his stories of Bambulo. They are 3 or 4 books about a dog, Bambulo, that recalls all the big things in history where his ancestors had something to do, from Troya to the arrival of Columbus to America. And yes, Bambulo is a dog from Bilbao.
Uff, a bit too much for today. A couple of portuguese recommendations for Natalie: Luiz Camoens (Os Lusiadas, heavy stuff, XVI century), Camilo Castelo Branco, Pessoa (and all his different impersonations. He has become Lisboa, like Kafka is Prague) or Jose Saramago.
Covadonga (Bilbao - Spain)