Like the rest of the country, us Prime Writers have spent most of the past week endlessly refreshing our computer screens as we’ve tried to keep up with breaking news. And it doesn’t look as if it’ll be calming down any time soon…
However, in the midst of turmoil, there is literature. So we’re taking this month to share the love for our favourite European writers and books. First up is Rebecca Mascull, taking us on a whistlestop tour of the literary landscape of Spain.
I studied Spanish and English at university back in the 1990s and loved every minute of it. I took courses in different areas of Spanish culture, including Spanish cinema and Spanish art – oh, what wonderful stuff I discovered! I learnt about the great Spanish artists Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Murillo, Ribera and, a personal favourite, the beautiful sun-drenched scenes of Sorolla. In cinema, I watched haunting films like The Spirit of the Beehive and The South by Victor Erice. I wrote essays about the Spanish Civil War (and I still intend to write a novel about this tragic conflict one day). And I read a lot of Spanish literature. Here are some of my favourites:
Federico Garcia Lorca – this playwright and poet was murdered at the beginning of the civil war. Before he died, he wrote some of the most memorable pieces of Spanish literature, including Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba.
Benito Perez Galdos – they call him the Spanish Dickens. Funnily enough, I was yet to properly discover Dickens myself (until I read almost every book when I was pregnant, many years later), so Galdos was a great introduction to that wonderful, inclusive type of novel writing that lays bare society in all its facets. I particularly liked Misericordia and La de Bringas.
Emilia Pardo Bazan – this wonderful author wrote an excellent novel called The House of Ulloa, which is available in Penguin Classics, translated by Lucia Graves. Bazan was a feminist and intellectual, a fascinating person. The novel stands beside any other European novel of the period as a brilliant story of family, money, politics and satire with a gothic flavour. Fabulous stuff.
That’s only a brief taster, of course: there’s so much more Spanish literature, art and cinema to discover (and much of it is in translation), so what are you waiting for? Enjoy!
We’ll be featuring a different country most days this month, so do come back and find out more. And why not let us know about your favourite European author? Leave a comment below or share with us on Twitter, and you might be in the special ‘Our readers recommend’ post at the end of the series!