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Spain in Mind

A book by Alice Leccese Powers

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An outstanding collection of writing about Spain

  • Sep 13, 2010
This book, edited by Alice Leccese Powers, is a terrific collection of pieces by "great writers entranced by Spain". Powers has assembled a wonderful collection, which includes pieces by all of the usual suspects (Hemingway, Auden, Orwell, Washington Irving, James Michener, Gerald Brenan, Langston Hughes), augmented by contributions from other illustrious literary pilgrims (Lord Byron, Henry James, John Dos Passos, Edith Wharton, Robert Graves, Anthony Trollope, W. Somerset Maugham), a smattering of poetry (Billy Collins, E.E. cummings, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Andrew Marvell, William Wordsworth), and a variety of travel pieces from such 20th century visitors as Rose Macaulay, Jan Morris, Eric Newby, Calvin Trillin, Joanna Trollope, Tim Moore, Barbara Kingsolver, and Mary Lee Settle.

The result is an absolute delight -- a book that's small enough to be an unobtrusive travel companion, that one can dip into with confidence, knowing that one's faith in the editor's judgment will not be misplaced. The inclusion of pieces spanning three centuries provides a deeper understanding of context and historical background; the choice of authors helps the reader gain an appreciation of Spain's position in the literary and artistic imagination over the years.

There isn't a dull piece in the book (Wordsworth's contribution is confined to one solitary sonnet, in case you were wondering; even I can tolerate a sonnet). It may be just a happy coincidence that the more recent contributions are by travel writers and authors who I've always enjoyed (Rose Macaulay, Eric Newby, Jan Morris, Calvin Trillin, Barbara Kingsolver, Mary Lee Settle).

For centuries, travelers from around the world came to Spain -- drawn by its art, food, culture, all of which reflect a fascinating and chequered history. Dramatic landscapes, a Mediterranean climate, the peculiar Spanish blend of warmth, pride and machismo, and the cultural and artistic resurgence in recent decades are further attractions. As a travel destination, Spain is tough to beat. If you can't manage to make a trip in person any time soon, you could do much worse than pick up a copy of this book. Alice Leccese Powers has put together a collection of pieces which capture the country's essential spirit, with charm and panache.

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About this book


This is the ninth literary travel guide in the In Mind series, the fifth edited by Powers, offering insights into a region, a ritual, or an event. Forty writers are represented, including W. H. Auden, e. e. cummings, John Dos Passos, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Washington Irving, Henry James, W. Somerset Maugham, George Orwell, Edith Wharton, and Richard Wright. There are letters and memoirs, poems, and selections from novels and nonfiction pieces. Powers states in her introduction that most of the writers express an exuberant spirit with an underpinning of melancholy: the passion of the bullfight, the celebration of holidays and festivals, and the love of food and families. This anthology portrays both the layers of the past and the vivid present. It is the closest anyone has come to capturing the essence of this fascinating country.George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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ISBN-10: 1400076765
ISBN-13: 978-1400076765
Author: Alice Leccese Powers
Genre: Travel
Publisher: Vintage
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