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Spain Paperback – 7 Aug 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057124176X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571241767
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

Spain is Jan Morris's compelling and beautifully written companion to the country: its people, its history - and its character.

About the Author

Jan Morris was born in 1926 of a Welsh father and an English mother, and when she is not travelling she lives with her partner Elizabeth Morris in the top left-hand corner of Wales, between the mountains and the sea. Her books include Coronation Everest, Venice, The Pax Britannica Trilogy (Heaven's Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets), and Conundrum. She is also the author of six books about cities and countries, two autobiographical books, several volumes of collected travel essays and, more recently, the unclassifiable Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. A Writer's World, a collection of her travel writing and reportage from over five decades, was published in 2003. Hav, her novel, was published in a new and expanded form in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Her most recent book, Contact!, about the people she encountered on her many travels, was published in 2009.


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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've greatly enjoyed Jan Morris's books on Oxford, as well as some of her travel essays, so when this appeared on an Amazon list while I was looking for books about Spain, I picked it up quickly. It's a short set of pieces about different aspects of that country, written with a characteristic delicate touch that presents the exactly appropriate image in the most memorable way - for example (p94): "In Spanish, the pronoun tu is reserved for relatives, intimates and animals"; on the following page, we learn that, "of the ten thousand varieties of flowers in Europe, more than half are found in Spain".

One of the most striking of these images occurs near the beginning of the book, where the course of Spanish history is likened to a elevation graph formed by cutting an imaginary slice through the country from coast to coast: climbing steadily to the heights of the Iberian central plateau, before sliding down to the sea again. The historical simile sees the fortunes of the country rising to a pinnacle in the sixteenth century when it was, for a brief period, the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Since then, according to Morris, it's been downhill all the way, and she ends with a question about whether the country's fortunes can rise again.

Recent visitors to that pleasant country might be surprised to read about her uncertainty on this point, but it must be recalled that she was originally writing in 1964 whilst Franco was still in charge, and although the book was updated in 1979, this was only four years after his death - still too soon to be able to spot the improvements in the fortunes of the nation that have occurred since then. However in the end, she turns this difficulty to her advantage, likening efforts at peering into Spain's future to looking at - in the memorable words of Jose Ortega y Gasset - "a cloud of dust, left hanging in the air when a great people went galloping down the highroad of history". Just perfect.
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A really impressive work, the writing is so eloquent. It's not a guide book but it really gives the flavour of what Spain actually is from a historical and cultural perspective.
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This perhaps is no longer a travel book, in the sense that the Spain that the author writes so evocatively about has in most part dissipated like the rare mist on the Castilian plain. Whilst modern Spain is a fine example of a modern, liberal industrialised society; at least in its principle cosmopolitan areas - one senses the lost of the Iberia that was. The grandeur of a nation that imparted so much to the world in the discovery of a New World, the staunch pride of a community of believers that was nearly biblical, a country of individuals who were in tune with the cycles of nature. This book serves as a paean to what was once, like a dusty knight tilting at those windmills.
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A well written and engaging book. Jan seems to have gone below the surface with her thematic tour of Spain and 'Spanishness'. Her account (based on travels in early 60s albeit with minimal update post-Franco) is likely to be dated, but all the better for it.
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A fine writer with an eye for how the details can tell the story. There are some very clumsy generalisations such as 'the spaniards have always been a warlike people'. Who are the SPaniards she talks about? Is this an assumed view of a patriarchal view of Spain? Were the women dragged into this. Are the Basques generalised along with the Catalans and the Andalucians. No culture can be generalized on these lines.
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Jan Morris -brilliant as usual, although it was a very old edition (1964 first published) so not Spain as we know it today. Always very interesting, whenever she writes.
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