A Dip Into Spanish Literature

Without Spain the modern day novel might not exist. Not that the Spanish invented writing or books, but one of the first novelists was Spanish.

Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish author and between 1605 and 1619 he published two volumes of Don Quixote, one of the world’s most influential novels.

The novel’s full title is ‘The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha’ and it tells the story of Alonso Quijano, a young man who is perturbed with the world because he believes chivalry is dead. He sets forth with a new name, Don

Quixote in a bid to reintroduce chivalry to the world.

He teams up with his trusted squire, Sancho Panza and off they embark on some wild adventures. The book is now published in one volume but the first half is more whimsical than the second half, which is more philosophical and serious.

It was written during the Spanish Golden Age, a period of Spanish history spanning from 1492 until about 1659 that produced great works of arts and literature and coincides with the rule of the Hapsburg family.

Cervantes is but one of many influential authors who are Spanish by birth or who loved Spain so much, they immortalized it in their work.

One of the greatest poets of the twentieth century is considered to be Federico Garcia Lorca. He was also an artist, dramatist and composer. His plays are still performed throughout Spain because they evoke a treasured rural way of life that is now extinct.

One of his most famous plays, ‘Blood Wedding,’ tells the story of a bride about to be married. The groom’s mother discovers the bride is in love with another man. On the day of the wedding, shortly after the ceremony, the bride disappears into the forest with her lover. Her husband discovers them and the men kill each other.

This simple but powerful play may be based in the Spanish hills but it has a universal message that evokes the relentless cycle of life and the importance of rituals, particularly marriage, in all cultures. It also illustrates how the binding power of marriage can destroy the fluid boundaries of love.

Foreign authors also chose to make Spain home and allowed her to shape their life’s work. One of the most famous of those is Ernest Hemingway. American, alcoholic, novelist, journalist and celebrity, Hemingway made the bars of Madrid and bullrings of Spain his home.

He was so fascinated by bull fighting that one of his most famous novels, ‘The Sun Also Rises’ is dedicated to it. He wrote a second book on bullfighting called ‘Death in the Afternoon.’ While the first book is fiction, the second book is non-fiction, so the two are best read together.

Another more recent author who deserves a mention is Chris Stewart who wrote ‘Driving Over Lemons’ in 2001. This modern classic charts Chris’s move to the Granada region of Alpujarras. Written in a wry tone that the English are so good at, the book is both funny and vivid.

Chris brings to the life the whole experience of an urban British man trying to learn and integrate into the centuries old way of life of the Alpujarra mountain people. For anyone who wants an insight into Andalucia, this book is a must.

If you’d like more information on fiction and non-fiction books on Spain, check out this website: