Sunday, January 26, 2020


During the last week of December, my family and I traveled to Barcelona and Madrid. Before we went, I took a look around my library to collect what existing books I had about Spain. It was an irregular assortment. Most of them turned out to be my father's.  My parents traveled to Europe in 1970 and each picked a country: my mother picked England and my father picked Spain. Here's my limited assortment. 

Spain, Jan Morris (Oxford University Press, 1979).  Morris provides a concise biography of the country through selective samples of people and places.  By the end, he's given a flavorful portrait of the country. Picked up at the State Department used book store.

Spain, Nikos Kazantzakis, (Simon and Schuster 1963).  Divided into two parts, it is a very different book from Jan Morris's.  Kazantzakis writes portraits of Spanish cities through people he meets in his travels.  The second part of the book presents Spain through the eyes of Don Quixote.  Inherited from my father's books, it turns out he borrowed from a friend who is not also deceased. 

(Cover)                                                                        (Back)

A Pocket Guide to Spain (Published by the U.S. Armed Forces Information and Education Department of Defense, 1959).  In the 1950s and 60's the Department of Defense published a series of pocket guides for members of the armed forces to help acclimate them on tours of duty in various countries. I found this one at the State Department book store for 50 cents (note the original price tag is 65 cents).

 Iberia, James Michener (Random House, 1968).  A non-fiction work by Michener of Spain, a country where he lived as a young man.  Detailed portraits of kings, painters, bullfighters, fishermen, and farmers.  Interesting to note how he laments the old Spain is disappearing.  Inherited from my father's library, no doubt as something he read before his travels.  

Prado, Sanchez Canton (Thames & Hudson, 1966).  Nothing could symbolize a greater sense of Spain and pride than the Prado Museum.  It may be my favorite museum in the world.  Velazquez, Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Rubens, Titian--the genius of their art is under one roof.  I've visited twice.  The second time with a guide during the Christmas holiday when it was too crowded to stand in one place for long. Inherited from my father's library. 

Spain, Sacheverell Sitwell (1950). Part of a Books on the Countries of Europe published five years after the end of WWII.  Sacheverell or "Satch" was one of three artistic and prolific siblings in England who published extensively on travel, art, music and poetry. Sacheverell's impressions were formed by traveling around Spain after WWI. Filled with high quality black and white photos. Inheirited from my mother's library. It sold for 18 shillings. My mother may have bought it when she traveled to Europe after college graduation in the mid 1950s.

Goya, Jose Gudiol (Harry N. Abrams 1966).  Goya's work is stunning, incredible, and terrifying.  Ahead of his time.  He seems to be the one who could tell the story of Spain and even of humanity. Inherited from my mother's books. Gift from my mother's fiance with an inscription from Christmas 1977.  

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