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South From Granada (Penguin Modern Classics)…
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South From Granada (Penguin Modern Classics) by Gerald Brenan (2008-05-29) (original 1957; edition 1800)

by Gerald Brenan (Author)

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299666,872 (3.65)6
Part autobiography, part travelogue, and wholly a tribute to the unspoilt beauty of southern Spain, Gerald Brenan's South from Granada includes an introduction by Chris Stewart, author of the bestselling Driving Over Lemons, in Penguin Modern Classics. Between 1920 and 1934, Gerald Brenan lived in the remote Spanish village of Yegen and South of Granadadepicts his time there, vividly evoking the essence of his rural surroundings and the Spanish way of life before the Civil War. Here he portrays the landscapes, festivals and folk-lore of the Sierra Nevada, the rivalries, romances and courtship rituals, village customs, superstitions and characters. Fascinating details emerge, from cheap brothels to archaeological remains, along with visits from Brenan's friends from the Bloomsbury group - Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf among them. Knowledgeable, elegant and sympathetic, this is a rich account of Spain's vanished past. Gerald Brenan (1894-1987) was an English writer who spent much of his life in Spain. He is best known for The Spanish Labyrinth, a work of history on the background to the Spanish Civil War and for South From Granada- Seven Years in an Andalusian Village. He was awarded a CBE in 1982, and was much honoured in Spain If you enjoyed South from Granada, you might like Orwell's Homage to Catalonia,also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'The best of Brenan's books- he has a true and proper knowledge of the culture he describes' Cyril Connolly, Sunday Times 'A brilliant interpreter of Spain to the rest of the world' The Times… (more)
Member:Toresana
Title:South From Granada (Penguin Modern Classics) by Gerald Brenan (2008-05-29)
Authors:Gerald Brenan (Author)
Info:Penguin Classic (1800)
Collections:Latin America
Rating:
Tags:LatAm Lit box #4

Work details

South from Granada by Gerald Brenan (1957)

  1. 10
    Journey to the Alcarria: Travels Through the Spanish Countryside by Camilo José Cela (caflores)
    caflores: Bajo las descripciones, el cariño del autor por la zona.
Europe (436)
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English (4)  Spanish (2)  All languages (6)
Showing 4 of 4
First person account of living in the Alpujarra, an impoverished, backward region of Southern Spain, in the years following the First World War. Good description of village life and the characters who lived there. ( )
  DramMan | Nov 16, 2017 |
This non-fiction travel book is as close to literature as travel books can get. Gerald Brenan, after serving in the British army in the First World War, decides to stretch his meagre savings as long as possible by living extremely cheaply in a very small village called Yegen in the mountainous regions in the south of Spain. This book, describing him living amongst these people in the 1920's, captures pretty much every conceivable angle of that village and its surrounding area, along with visits from famous arts figure friends from the Bloomsbury group, including Virginia Woolf.

There are two features that make the book so special. First, it describes a part of the western world that still carried its own unique identity, before the cultural and technological influx from the rest of the Western World homogenised it. Thus, the Yegen people are completely saturated with strange traditions, apparently Christian in many cases, but clearly owing their origins, in the main, to past pagan habits. The Islamic history of the place also plays a part, as does general superstitions. Whereas cosmopolitan places not too far away, such as Madrid, would have largely shed such primitive, but colourful, supersitions, Yegen seems still build on them. They pervade every aspect of life, especially that of courtship, which is even more formalistic and repressed than Victorian English rules of etiquette.

The second feature that makes the book so special is the eye of its author. Brenan was clearly both a tremendously robust, positive and adventurous man, which helped him fall in love with a place where medicine and education were so lacking. But he was also extremely good at both embracing the culture he was living inside, and remaining a distanced observer to it. Nowhere is this more apparent when he walks by a barred window and somehow accidentally seems to become a serious boyfriend of some young woman. This requires him to visit her window every evening from dusk, and spend hours talking with her. Only when he realises she is physically rather squat and unattractive after a possible promenade offer does he make his excuses, weeks later! But he notes carefully all the standard phrases she comes up with, as if she could be one of a thousand courting clones. But his eye for psychological detail brilliantly captures so many colourful characters in his time there that these are what elevate the book far beyond a normal travel book, and almost turn it, at times, into a Dostoyevskian novel (most apparent in his tour guide acquaintance who shows him round all the Almeria brothels - a man that claims he is riddled by STDs, but is still addicted to prostitutes despite this, even to the extent that he can't afford to feed his own children. All this is very dramatic and sad, but then it's revealed that the man is sexually completely non-functional, without any children, and it's all an act!).

Although occasional passages seem a little tedious, reverting almost to text-book level detail about the region's history, on the whole this is very easy and exciting reading. Told at times with a beautiful poetical style, this book is a pleasure to read, and gives a fascinating and immersive glimpse into a vibrant place and time that no longer exists. ( )
  RachDan | Jul 18, 2016 |
Interested in Spain in the 1920's and 1930's before the Civil War then this is a must.
( )
  Tonyh. | Jan 27, 2016 |
This is a fantastic book. It's a description of life in Yegen, the isolated and almost self-sufficient village in the Alpujarra region of Southern Spain where Gerald Brenan lived in the 1920's and 1930's. He describes the everyday life of the villagers and the festivals marking the agricultural year (which although nominally Catholic, have probably been performed almost unchanged since pagan times). He is a keen walker, on one occasion walking 60 miles home from Granada over the mountains in one day, starting at 3 am and arriving in the village at 10 pm. He is interested in the geography, archaeology, history, flora and fauna of the area as well as the people and describes everything in great detail. There are a couple of chapters about Bloomsbury friends such as Virginia Woolf visiting from England, but it is mostly about Spain and the way of life in the Alpujarra. ( )
1 vote isabelx | Feb 20, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gerald Brenanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ziegler, PhilipIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Part autobiography, part travelogue, and wholly a tribute to the unspoilt beauty of southern Spain, Gerald Brenan's South from Granada includes an introduction by Chris Stewart, author of the bestselling Driving Over Lemons, in Penguin Modern Classics. Between 1920 and 1934, Gerald Brenan lived in the remote Spanish village of Yegen and South of Granadadepicts his time there, vividly evoking the essence of his rural surroundings and the Spanish way of life before the Civil War. Here he portrays the landscapes, festivals and folk-lore of the Sierra Nevada, the rivalries, romances and courtship rituals, village customs, superstitions and characters. Fascinating details emerge, from cheap brothels to archaeological remains, along with visits from Brenan's friends from the Bloomsbury group - Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf among them. Knowledgeable, elegant and sympathetic, this is a rich account of Spain's vanished past. Gerald Brenan (1894-1987) was an English writer who spent much of his life in Spain. He is best known for The Spanish Labyrinth, a work of history on the background to the Spanish Civil War and for South From Granada- Seven Years in an Andalusian Village. He was awarded a CBE in 1982, and was much honoured in Spain If you enjoyed South from Granada, you might like Orwell's Homage to Catalonia,also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'The best of Brenan's books- he has a true and proper knowledge of the culture he describes' Cyril Connolly, Sunday Times 'A brilliant interpreter of Spain to the rest of the world' The Times

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