La bailarina (The Dancer)

Flamenco dancer, Seville

Cita del día:

El temblor del corazón de la bailarina ha de ser armonizado desde las puntas de sus zapatos hasta el abrir y cerrar de sus pestañas, desde el último volante de so cola al juego incesante de sus dedos. Verdadera náufraga en un campo de aire, la bailarina ha de medir líneas, silencios, zigzags y rápidas curvas, con un sexto sentido de arome y geometría, sin equivocar nunca su terreno, como hace el torero, cuyo corazón de estar en el cuello del toro, porque corren el mismo peligro, él de muerte, ella de oscuridad.

(Federico García Lorca: Elogia de Antonia Mercé, «La Argentina»)


 Quote of the Day:

The dancer’s trembling heart must bring everything into harmony, from the tips of her shoes to the flutter of her eyelashes, from the rustles of her dress to the incessant play of her fingers. Shipwrecked in a field of air, she must measure lines, silences, zigzags and rapid curves, with a sixth sense of aroma and geometry, without ever mistaking her terrain. In this she resembles the torero, whose heart must keep to the neck of the bull. Both of them face the same danger–he, death; and she, darkness.

(Federico García Lorca: In Praise of Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina”)

Quizá también te gusta / You might also like:Alegrías by Pepe HabichuelaFederico García Lorca: Impresiones y paisajesSketches of Spain: CastileSketches of Spain: Granada 

Clase de literatura (Literature class)

Scroll down the page to read this in English

Acabo de volver del Instituto Cervantes de Londres – de mi primer clase de literatura en español. Esperaba que volvería a casa más sofisticada y con una experiencia de haber hablado en español mucho tiempo durante de las dos horas del clase sobre literatura, y bueno, quizá también con el título de un libro que tendré que empezar a leer para el próximo clase.

Que no.

Volví a casa con una fotocopia de los primeros treinta páginas de un libro argentino y el deseo de cambiar el curso. Si lo puedo, a esas alturas.

Fuimos cuatro los estudiantes y estábamos pasando el tiempo leyendo, en voz alta, el libro por casi dos horas. En el tiempo que nos quedó, la profesora nos habló del escritor y la sociedad argentina de la primera parte del siglo XX, con ojos brillantes de alegría (no estudiaba en dos universidades sin reconocer los síntomas de un profesor perdido en su propio mundo). El tema era bastante interesante pero no lo que necesito para mejorar la fluidez. Creo que hablé más en español con el guardia de seguridad que me explicó como llegar al aula que con mi profesora. Aunque, eso sí, practicaba leer en voz alta, algo que no hice de la edad de diez años.

Así que ahora estoy sentada en el sofá, con mi portátil y un vaso de vino tinto (por Dios que lo necesitaba), blogueando en español. ¿Puede ser que la clase no era un siniestro total? (Sin embargo, voy a cambiarla.)

Por cierto, el libro fue El juguete rabioso por Roberto Arlt.


Literature Class

I have just come home from the Cervantes Institute of London – from my first class of literature in Spanish. I expected that I would come home more sophisticated and with the experience of having spoken in Spanish about literature a lot during the two hours of the class, and well, perhaps a title of a book which I would have to start reading for the next class.

But no.

I came home with a photocopy of thirty pages of an Argentinian book and the desire to change the course. If I can, this late.

There was four of us students and we spent the time reading out loud the book for nearly two hours. In the time that remained, the professor talked to us about the writer and the Argentinian society of the first half of the 20th century, with her eyes sparkling of joy (haven’t studied at two universities without learning to recognise the symptoms of a profesor lost in his own world). The topic was interesting enough but not what I need to improve my fluency. I think I talked more in Spanish with the security guard who told me where the classroom was than with my teacher.  Although it’s true that I practised reading out loud, something I haven’t done since the age of ten.

So now I’m sitting on the sofa with my laptop and a glass of red wine (by god, I needed it), blogging in Spanish. Possibly the class wasn’t a total write-off? (Nevertheless, I’m going to change it.)

By the way, the book was The Mad Toy by Roberto Arlt.

Eight Catalan Surnames (Ocho Apellidos Catalanes)

Have you ever seen somebody from a distance and sussed their nationality at first glance, without even having heard them speak – because they looked so stereotypical?

(All right, excluding Japanese tourists.)

Well, we did, last Sunday.

¿Has visto alguna vez a alguien de la distancia y adivinado de dónde es, a la primera vista, sin que lo has oído hablar – porque se parecía tan estereotípico?

(Bueno, excluyendo a los turistas japoneses.)

Pues, eso es exactamente lo que nos pasó el domingo pasado.

Continue reading “Eight Catalan Surnames (Ocho Apellidos Catalanes)”

How to Survive Semana Santa in Seville

Tips to Make Your Semana Santa Memorable

We spent Semana Santa in Seville this year – and although we enjoyed it, we could have enjoyed it so much better if we knew what we know now. (And it’s not like we didn’t do our research in the internet and guidebooks first.) So read this to find out how to make the most of your stay in Seville during Semana Santa!

Let’s start with…

Continue reading “How to Survive Semana Santa in Seville”

Aesop’s Fables in Nahuatl

While reading a history of the Latin language recently, I came across one of the fables of Aesop – translated into English from Nahuatl. In case you’ve never heard of Nahuatl, it was the language of the Aztec empire and in consequence the lingua franca of Central-America up to the 16th century; it is still spoken in parts of Mexico.

The book in question is Ad infinitum: A Biography of Latin by Nicholas Ostler and I wouldn’t recommend it to the general public although if you do happen to be interested in historical linguistics and especially in Latin, it’s fine; all the more enjoyable if you can actually know Latin of course (sadly I don’t).

But what has a Nahuatl version of the fables of Aesop – who after all was Greek – got to do with the history of Latin?

Continue reading “Aesop’s Fables in Nahuatl”

Mantillas on Maundy Thursday (Las mantillas de Jueves Santo)

Seville in Holy Week…

Processions, processions. And then some more processions.

Huge floats covered in flowers moving slowly forwards in narrow streets among the throng of people. Hooded penitents bearing crosses or candles, church flags, incense, bands, children handing out sweets, a man singing laments from the balcony at four a.m. People dressed in mourning on Holy Thursday: women in black dresses with black mantillas, men in black or navy suits wearing ties. In blazing sunshine and thirty degrees heat.

I love Spain.

Sevilla en Semana Santa…

Procesiones, procesiones. Y luego aún más procesiones.

Pasos enormes cubiertos en flores que mueven lentamente adelante en calles estrechos entre la muchedumbre. Nazarenos en capirotes llevando cruces o velas, banderas de la iglesia, incienso, bandas de música, un hombre cantando saetas del balcón a las cuatro de la madrugada. Gente que se viste ropa de luto el Jueves Santo: mujeres en vestidos negros con mantillas, hombres en trajes negros o azules oscuros con corbatas. Y eso bajo un sol ardiente, en un calor de treinta grados.

Quiero a España.

Continue reading “Mantillas on Maundy Thursday (Las mantillas de Jueves Santo)”

Waterloo Sunset

I thought I’d photograph the sky at sunset as it has been so spectacular recently.

Me ocurrió sacar unas fotos del cielo cuando se pone el sol, como recientemente estaba tan impresionante.

So I went down to the Thames and picked a prime spot where there was nothing in the way of my spectacular sunset. No trees, no tall buildings, no radio masts – nothing. There was the river, the sky and me. And there was going to be this sunset.

Así que fui al Támesis y elegí un lugar perfecto, donde no había nada para bloquear la vista de mi puesta de sol espectacular. No árboles, ni rascacielos, ni torres de telecomunicación – nada de nada. Había el río, el cielo y yo. Y iba a ser esta puesta de sol.

I waited.

Esperaba.

Continue reading “Waterloo Sunset”

Mediterranean Brilliance

Mediterranean brilliance hit me like a bolt of lightning; the whole of human life was enacted on a single, fabulous, public stage against a careless backdrop of thousands of years of sublime art. Colours, foods, markets, clothing, gestures, language: everything seemed more refined, more vivid, more vibrant…

(Cees Nooteboom)

Hero Under the Death Sentence (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés II)

Continued from Save the Trinidad (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés)

Sometimes people have the misfortune to live in ‘interesting’ times. Exciting, even. In the case of Spain, in fact, it’s difficult to find a period of history when the times were not ‘exciting’ – so it shouldn’t come as surprise that the excitement in Cayetano Valdés’s life not ended with Trafalgar, but rather, it began.

I mean you’d think there he was, sitting ashore in the naval ports of Cádiz and Cartagena, figuratively licking his wounds… having been promoted to senior officer, safely behind a desk in an office, pushing paper in the grand Spanish fashion, into quiet old age – since there wasn’t much of a navy left for him to command, right?

Wrong.

Continue reading “Hero Under the Death Sentence (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés II)”

Save the Trinidad (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés)

Date: 14 February 1797 
Place: The Atlantic, off Cape St Vincent (Portugal)

If you’re English and into naval history, you will recognise the time and place as the Battle of Cape St Vincent – one of nine, that is. (Clearly it was a popular place for enemy fleet rendezvous.) This particular Battle of Cape St Vincent was the one which became famous for Nelson’s Patent Bridge for Boarding First Rates1 so you’re now settling in for a nice read about Horatio Nelson and various associated heroics of the Royal Navy, right? Let’s go:

It was a cold and foggy day…

Er, no. It was a cold and foggy day but you should have taken a look at the title perhaps.

Rather than detailing Nelson’s heroics of which you can read on plenty of other websites, I’m going to write about a Spanish naval officer: Cayetano Valdés, who had been cast in the role of having to save the Santísima Trinidad, the pride of the Spanish navy, the largest warship of its time.

Twice.

A topic that you won’t find much discussed in English elsewhere (for entirely understandable reasons).

Continue reading “Save the Trinidad (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés)”

Along the Thames (Black & White)

You might have thankfully forgotten but I’m working my way through the Dogwood 2016 photography challenge. I spared you Red (my efforts were dismal) and I’m not sharing Headshot because Sophisticated Young Lady, the only willing volunteer, is entitled to her privacy.

Which brings us to last week’s challenge: Landscape: Black & White. I went down to the Thames on Sunday afternoon; it was low tide.

Continue reading “Along the Thames (Black & White)”

Westminster

Overheard outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday afternoon as I passed two middle aged women.

Oí esto fuera de las Casas del Parlamento ayer por la tarde cuando pasaba dos mujeres de mediana edad.

Woman 1: No, it happened on the bridge.
Woman 2 (animated): Oh right… shall we go and have a look?

Mujer 1: No, lo ocurrió en el puente.
Mujer 2 (animada): Vale… ¿Vamos a echar un vistazo entonces?

Well, that explains why the bridge was more full of pedestrians than ever.

Bien, eso explica porqué el puente tenía más peatones que nunca.

(So much for terrorism.)

(El fracaso del terrorismo.)

 

A Sense of History

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning inquiry) is the study of the past…

History is asking questions.

?

And answering them.

Herodotus of Halicarnassus here presents his research so that human events do not fade with time. May the great and wonderful deeds – some brought forth by the Hellenes, others by the barbarians – not go unsung as well as the causes that led them to make war on each other.

Herodotus: The Histories, 1:1

Continue reading “A Sense of History”

Spain in Black & White IV (España en blanco y negro IV)

Let’s not let March go by without some pictures of Spain…

Marzo no debe transcurrir sin fotos de España…

P.S. I think this will be the last post of Mediterranean Mondays (unless there are howls of protest). It's been running for a long time and I fancy a change. I will still continue to write and post photos about the Mediterranean of course; it just won't be always on Monday.

P.D. Creo que esto será el último post de Mediterranean Mondays (a menos que hayan aullidos de protesta). Llevo escribiendo esta serie mucho tiempo y me apatece un cambio. Por supuesto, seguiré escribiendo y publicando fotos del Mediterráneo, es que no será siempre el lunes.

A Day’s Hiking (No One Writes to the Colonel)

Two years ago I read No One Writes to the Colonel (El coronel no tiene quien le escriba) by Gabriel García Márquez on the train en route for a day’s hiking. (It was just the right length.) Yesterday it was the first genuinely nice day of the year, so we went hiking; and I re-read No One Writes to the Colonel on the train.

I mean the first time round I thought it was brilliant and my Spanish is two years better now.

It’s BRILLIANT.

(The day’s hiking wasn’t bad either.)

There’s only one problem with No One Writes to the Colonel: I feel completely discouraged from picking up any of García Márquez’s other books ever again: there’s no way  he could have surpassed this one.

In fact, I know he didn’t think he ever did.

You might also like:Gabriel García Márquez, Minus Magical Realism

The Siege (El asedio)

In a city under siege, the bodies of gruesomely murdered young women begin to appear. And at every spot where the police finds a corpse, a bomb has fallen. Is there a connection?

This is the (brutally simplified) premise of The Siege, a historical novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. A novel set in Cádiz during the French siege in 1811 and 1812, in the era of the Napoleonic Wars, two years during what the Spanish call the War of Independence.

Cádiz. [Public domain via Pixabay]
En una ciudad bajo sitio aparecen cadáveres de jovencitas asesinadas en una manera horripilante. Y en cada lugar en que el policía encuentra un cadáver, ha caído una bomba. ¿Hay alguna conexión?

Eso es la premisa (simplificada de manera brutal) de El Asedio, una novela história por Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Una novela ambientada en Cádiz durante el asedio francés en los años 1811 y 1812, la era de la Guerra de la Independencia. 

Continue reading “The Siege (El asedio)”

Pablo Neruda Explains a Few Things

I read in the news on Friday that in Madrid they are renaming the streets that carry Francoist names – high time. The same afternoon, Sophisticated Young Lady came home for the weekend from university (where she reads Spanish and History) and reminded me of a poem that I haven’t heard for decades… and certainly never read in the original until last Friday night. So today we’ll remember the Spanish Civil War…

Pablo Neruda explica algunas cosas

El viernes leí en las noticias que en Madrid van a dar nombres sustituivos para calles con nombres franquistas – ya es hora. La misma tarde, La Señorita Sofisticada volvió a casa de la universidad (donde estudia español  y historia) para visitarnos para el fin de semana y me recordó a una poema que no había oído hace décadas… y seguramente no he leído en lo original nunca hasta la noche del viernes pasado. Así que hoy recordamos la guerra civil española…

Continue reading “Pablo Neruda Explains a Few Things”

Canoeing in the Wilderness

In the summer of 1857, the American writer Henry David Thoreau – best known for his book Walden detailing his experiences of living in a log cabin for two years in the wild – went on a canoe trip in the still unspoilt regions of Maine, with a friend and an Indian guide from the reservation of Old Town.

Continue reading “Canoeing in the Wilderness”

In Memoriam: Azure Window (La Ventana Azul)

The Azure Window in Dwejra Bay on the Maltese island of Gozo made headlines last week – not for a good reason. The rock formation, one of the most popular tourists sights on the small island, has disappeared without a trace during a storm.

I had the good fortune to see it when it was still there – so for today’s Mediterranean theme, a few photos of the Azure Window in memoriam (click photos to enlarge):

In Memoriam: La Ventana Azul

La Ventana Azul en la bahía de Dwejra en la isla de Gozo en Malta salió en las noticias la semana pasada – y no por una buena razón. Esta formación rocosa, uno de los más populares lugares de interés turístico en la isla pequeña, ha desaparecido sin dejar un rastro durante una tormenta.

Tuve la suerte de verla cuando todavía estaba allí – así que para el tema del Mediterráneo de hoy, algunas fotos de la Ventana Azul in memoriam (haz clic en las fotos para ampliar):

Continue reading “In Memoriam: Azure Window (La Ventana Azul)”