Mi biblioteca (My Library)

La cita del día / Quote of the Day

Juan Eslava Galán (1948-)

En mi biblioteca se resume toda mi vida. Hay libros que no he leído nunca y quizá ya no lea; pero hay otros muy manoseados y anotados. Todos me traen recuerdos de lo que fui y de lo que fueron en el momento en que los leí, de las circunstancias en que llegaron a mis manos, en un viaje, en una librería de viejo, olvidados en el banco de un parque, regalados…

(Juan Eslava Galán: De bibliotecas y libros, Zenda 7 junio 2017)


My whole life is summed up in my library. There are books which I have never read and perhaps never will now; others are well-thumbed and annotated. They all remind me of who I was and what they were in the moment when I read them, of the circumstances in which I acquired them: during a trip, in an old bookshop, forgotten on a bench in a park, given as presents…

(Juan Eslava Galán: Of Libraries and Books, Zenda 7 June 2017)

La mar eterna (The Eternal Sea)

Como quizás os habéis dado cuenta, recientemente fue demasiado ocupada para escribir posts con regularidad, especialmente para escribir esas largas posts sobre Heródoto que necesitan investigaciones adicionales…

As you might have noticed, recently I have been too busy to be able to blog regularly – especially writing those long posts about Herodotus, involving additional research…

Desafortunadamente, por el momento espero seguir ocupada, pero tengo muchas buenas citas para compartir, de modo que la Cita de la semana se convertirá, al menos temporalmente, en La cita del día. Empezando hoy.

Unfortunately, in the near future I expect to be even busier but I have lots of good quotes to share, so that Quote of the Week will become, at least temporarily, Quote of the Day. Starting today.

Y, por supuesto, estoy siguiendo escribir posts más largas siempre que tengo el tiempo!

Of course, whenever I have the time I’m still writing longer posts as well!

La cita del día / Quote of the Day:

unamuno
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

…bañaba todos los días mi vista en la visión eterna de la mar, de la mar eterna, de la mar que vio nacer y verá morir la historia, de la mar que guarda la misma sonrisa con que acogió el alba del linaje humano, la misma sonrisa con que contemplará su ocaso.

(Miguel de Unamuno: ¡Montaña, desierto, mar!)


…every day I bathed my sight in the eternal vision of the sea, of the eternal sea; of the sea that saw history be born and will see it die; of the sea that preserves the same smile with which it received the dawn of mankind, the same smile with which it will contemplate its sunset.

(Miguel de Unamuno)

El catolicismo explicado a las ovejas (Catholicism Explained to the Sheep)

O, una reseña irregular de un libro que todavía no he leído

Y lo que, además, no han traducido al inglés, así que la mayoría de los lectores de este blog no podrían leer. Hoy, vosotros los hispanohablantes tenéis la ventaja. 🙂

Or an Irregular Book Review about a Book I Haven’t Yet Read

And which is not translated into English anyway so most of you will be unable to read it!

El título: El catolicismo explicado a las ovejas

Pues, el título es alucinante, ¿no?

Todavía no lo sé si el autor es católico o no; o si es católico, que parece probable, si es de hecho un creyente o no. (Ya que ser católico y ser creyente son dos cosas muy distintas.) De todos modos, lo de las ovejas se puede interpretar en dos maneras:

  • la religiosa: Jesús es el Buen Pastor y sus cristianos son las ovejas – como es bien conocido
  • la agrícola: las ovejas son famosos por ser animales estúpidas (también tímidas, pero eso nos importa un pepino aquí)

Total que es un título entretenido que me gusta mucho. (Y también lo gustaba a mi hermanita quien me regaló el libro para mi cumpleaños.)

Si eres un autor no publicado, toma nota: un buen título ayuda mucho en vender tu libro.

The Title: Catholicism Explained to the Sheep

Well, it’s a fantastic title, don’t you agree?

At the moment I still don’t know whether the author is Catholic or not; or if he’s Catholic, which seems probable, whether he is a believer or not. (Since the two is no way the same.) At any rate, the titular sheep can be interpreted in two ways:

  • the religious: Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the Christians are the sheep – as is well known
  • the agricultural: sheep are famous for being stupid (and for being shy as well but we don’t give a toss about that here)

In summary, it’s an entertaining title, and I like it a lot. (So did my sister who gave me the book for my birthday.) 

If you're an unpublished author, take note: a good title goes a long way to sell your book.

El autor: Juan Eslava Galán

Juan Eslava Galán es un autor español, que escribe sobre la historia – ficción y no ficción. El catolicismo explicado a las ovejas no es el primer libro de Juan Eslava Galán que tengo. He leído cuatro y intento leer más, empezando, por supuesto, con El catolicismo… 🙂

Juan Eslava Galán (1948-)

The Author: Juan Eslava Galán

Juan Eslava Galán is a Spanish author of historical books – fiction and non-fiction. Catolicism Explained to the Sheep is not Juan Eslava Galán’s first book that I’ve got. I’ve read four so far, and mean to read more, starting, obviously, with the Catolicism… 🙂

La propaganda en la contraportada

Que dice:

Un libro valiente que responde a muchas cuestiones que atormentan hoy el alma del creyente:

¿Es Dios psicópata? ¿Por qué aconseja el robo y el asesinato?

¿Por qué instaló a los judíos, su Pueblo Elegido, en la única parcela de Oriente donde no hay petróleo?

¿Por qué el Ángel de la Guarda anota en su Libro Mayor los orgasmos de cada católico?

¿Por qué el Espíritu Santo es una paloma en lugar de un ornitorrinco, como sería más lógico?

¿Era puta la Magdalena o todo se debe a una confusión?…

Pues yo no soy una creyente, pero si quiero las respuestas… 🙂

The Blurb

Which says:

A brave book which answers many of the questions that torment the soul of today’s believers:

Is God a psychopath? Why does He advise robbery and murder?

Why did He settle the Jews, his Chosen People, in the only corner of the Middle East without oil?

Why does the Guardian Angel note down in his big book the orgasms of the Catholics?

Why is the Holy Spirit a dove instead of a duck-billed platypus, which would be more logical?

Was Mary Magdalene a whore or is this just a misunderstanding?…

Well, I’m not a believer, but I would like to know the answers! 🙂

Lockdown Diaries: Day 37 (Climbing the Popocatepetl in 1519)

Locked Down in London, Day 37: Agoraphobia

I dreamed I was on a bus that was getting more and more crowded, until we were all squashed against each other like sardines in a tin… and my neighbours leant towards me, breathing out pestilential air into my face.

It was only a dream. But if the government doesn’t stop the lockdown soon and the media doesn’t stop the constant scaremongering, I wonder how many people will emerge with newly acquired agoraphobia?

Continue reading “Lockdown Diaries: Day 37 (Climbing the Popocatepetl in 1519)”

El Tajo y el Manzanares (The Tagus and the Manzanares)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

Y en brazos estremecidos del Tajo va a pasar este arroyo de Goya [el Manzanares] por la hoz del río de la imperial Toledo, la del Greco, del río que sacaba fuera el pecho en tiempos de Don Rodrigo. Y se enlazan dos tragedias, pues también el Manzanares, el que oyó los fusilamientos del 2 de mayo de 1808, el que vio brotar en sus orillas los trágicos caprichos goyescos, cuando corría con fuego, sintió la tragedia de la vida. Y el Tajo lo lleva en sus brazos estremecidos a dejarlo al pie de Lisboa, en la mar de los conquistadores de Indias.

(Miguel de Unamuno: Orillas del Manzanares)


And in the trembling arms of the Tagus, this stream of Goya [the Manzanares] will pass through the sickle of the river of imperial Toledo, that of El Greco, from the river that stuck its chest out in the days of Don Rodrigo. And two tragedies are linked, because also the Manzanares, which heard the executions of May 2, 1808, which saw the tragic Goyesque caprices rise on its banks when it ran with fire, felt the tragedy of life. And the Tagus carries it in its trembling arms to leave it at the foot of Lisbon, in the sea of the conquerors of the Indies.

(Miguel de Unamuno: The Shores of the Manzanares)

The History of Spain in a Dozen Maps

Leer esto en castellano

1. Prehistory, 30 000 B.C.

In prehistoric times, the Iberian Peninsula was clearly the place to be – as attested by this map:

Prehistoric sites in Spain / Sitios prehistóricos en España [Courtesy of Jesús of the blog La Mar de Historias]
Now a year ago I had a great holiday in Ribadesella in Asturias – one of those places where only the Spanish (and American surfers) go on holiday to and it’s very useful to be actually able speak Spanish. You can find it on the map above where it says Tito Bustillo.

The Tito Bustillo Cave, some ten-fifteen minutes walk from the centre of Ribadesella, is a UNESCO World Heritage site (like the much better known Altamira). It was only discovered in the 1960s by a group of young people who evidently had nothing better to do and it’s named after one of them who died young in a caving accident. Cave paintings and stone age tools were found in the cave, the oldest paintings being about 30 thousand years old. In a hidden corner there are some paintings of… er… female genitalia which were, appropriately enough, discovered by a female member of the caving party who looked for some privacy to relieve herself. Or at least, so the tour guide says. 🙂

Continue reading “The History of Spain in a Dozen Maps”

Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2019)

About a year ago I looked back at 2018, admitted it had been a real struggle to keep the blog going and hoped for things to go better in 2019. Well, I can tell you this: they didn’t (if you didn’t work this out already for yourselves by the scarcity of the posts). What can I say? May 2020 be better than 2019 and may I write some good posts this year! 🙂

But while you’re waiting for those posts, let’s have a quick review at some of the books of 2019: books you might enjoy – or you’ll want to avoid! 🙂

By the way, if you ever want to know what I’m reading, you can always take a look at the Reading Log (which I do try to keep reasonably up-to-date).

Continue reading “Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2019)”

El lector de un solo libro (The Reader of Only One Book)

Empezamos el año nuevo con un consejo de uno de mis autores favoritos.

Si piensas en ello…

We start the new year with a piece of advice from one of my favourite Spanish authors.

When you think about it…

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)

“…desconfíen siempre vuestras mercedes de quien es lector de un solo libro.”


“Never trust a man who reads only one book.”

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte: Limpieza de sangre / Purity of Blood)

La compañía de Cristo (Christ’s Company)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)

Que ninguna bandera o compañía es perfecta; e incluso en la de Cristo, que fue como él mismo se la quiso reclutar, hubo uno que lo vendió, otro que lo negó y otro que no lo creyó.”

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte: El sol de Breda)


No unit and no company is perfect. Even in Christ’s, which was one he had recruited himself, there was one who betrayed him, another who denied him and yet another who failed to believe him.

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte: The Sun Over Breda)

Don Quijote y el escudero vizcaíno (Don Quixote and the Biscayan Squire)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)

Todo esto que don Quijote decía escuchaba un escudero de los que el coche acompañaban, que era vizcaíno; el cual, viendo que no quería dejar pasar el coche adelante, sino que decía que luego había dar la vuelta al Toboso, se fue para don Quijote y, asiéndole de la lanza, le dijo, en mala lengua castellana y peor vizcaína, desta manera:

—Anda, caballero que mal andes; por el Dios que crióme que, si no dejas coche, así te matas como estás ahí vizcaíno.

Entendióle muy bien don Quijote, y con mucho sosiego le respondió:

—Si fueras caballero, como no lo eres, ya yo hubiera castigado tu sandez y atrevimiento, cautiva criatura.

—¿Yo no caballero? Juro a Dios tan mientes como cristiano. Si lanza arrojas y espada sacas, ¡el agua cuán presto verás que al gato llevas! Vizcaíno por tierra, hidalgo por mar, hidalgo por el diablo, y mientes que mira si otra dices cosa.

(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)


All this was listened to by a Biscayan Squire who accompanied the coach. He hearing that the coach was not to pass on but was to return to Toboso, went up to Don Quixote, and, laying hold of his lance, said to him: ‘Get away with thee, Sir Knight, for if thou leave not the coach I will kill thee as sure as I am a Biscayan.’

‘If,’ replied Don Quixote haughtily, ‘thou wert a gentleman, as thou art not, I would ere this have punished thy folly and insolence, caitiff creature.’

‘I no gentleman?’ cried the enraged Biscayan. ‘Throw down thy lance and draw thy sword, and thou shalt soon see that thou liest.’

(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote de la Mancha, transl. by Judge Parry)

 

Note for English readers: 
You might wonder what this was all about? 
Regrettably, the English translation doesn't convey the joke - which is based on the Biscayan squire's bad Spanish. Understandably perhaps, this episode is generally omitted from most English versions; the version above renders the exchange in correct English. (And I had to consult three different translations before I found one that included it at all!) 
If you read the whole chapter, however, you may still find it enjoyable. You can find Parry's translation on Project Gutenberg:
⇒ Don Quixote of the Mancha (chapter VI - following on from the adventure of the windmills). Enjoy!

Woe Is Me, Alhama!

Woe Is Me, Alhama!

Boabdil’s Farewell to Granada by Alfred Dehodencq [public domain via Wikipedia]
One of my favourite Spanish historical ballads is A Very Mournful Ballad of the Siege and Conquest of Alhama, also known as The Moorish King Rides Up and Down or Woe Is Me, Alhama! It was also one of the first Spanish ballads I’ve ever read in the original (Spanish learners take note – the text is that accessible). I came across it in a collection of ballads which I found in a second-hand bookshop in Southport in Lancashire; it was a university textbook from the 1960s. In A Brief (Literary) History of the Reconquista I have already shared an excerpt with you (and a shorter version a few years ago in The Moorish King Rides Up & Down) but the ballad deserves better, so today you’re going to get the full version – plus the Spanish original for those of you who can enjoy it.

Continue reading “Woe Is Me, Alhama!”

Las tierras del Cid (The Lands of El Cid)

La primera vez que oí hablar de Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, mejor conocido como El Cid, tenía unos diez u once años. De hecho, no había oído hablar de él en absoluto: lo vi en una película que dieron en la tele en Hungría. Fue una película de Hollywood de 1961, titulado El Cid, con Charlton Heston en el papel del Cid y Sophia Loren en el papel de Doña Jimena. Os recomiendo si os gustan las películas románticas. 🙂

La cita muy romántica – en el sentido literario – de esta semana es, entonces, de Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, escritor y rector de la Universidad de Salamanca en su tiempo.

I first heard of the Spanish hero Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, better known as El Cid (The Lord), when I was about ten or eleven. Actually, I didn’t exactly hear of him: I saw him in a film, shown on Hungarian television. It was the 1961 Hollywood epic, El Cid, with Charlton Heston as the Cid and Sophia Loren as Doña Ximena. I recommend it to anybody with a romantic turn of mind. 🙂 The Cid was a Castilian knight in the eleventh century, who fought the Moors during the period of the Reconquista, that is, the reconquering of Spain from the Moors.

This week’s very romantic – in the literary sense – quote is from Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, a Spanish essayist and rector at the University of Salamanca in his time.

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

La Reconquista! ¡Cosas tuvieron nuestros Cides que han hecho hablar a las piedras¡ ¡Y cómo nos hablan las piedras sagradas des estos páramos! Reconquistado su suelo, Castilla, que había estado de pie, se acostó a soñar en éxtasis, en arrobo sosegado, cara al Señor eterno.

(Miguel de Unamuno: Por las tierras del Cid)


The reconquista! The things done by our Cids which have made the rocks talk. And how the holy rocks of these plateaus talk! Having reconquered her land, Castile, who had been standing, laid herself down to dream in ecstasy, in peaceful bliss, with her face to the eternal Lord.

(Miguel de Unamuno: Through the Lands of El Cid)

Land of Giants

Leer esto en castellano

Or The Windmills of Don Quixote

Unexceptional

The Lonely Planet guide about the La Mancha town of Campo de Criptana reads:

One of the most popular stops on the Don Quijote route, Campo de Criptana is crowned by 10 windmills visible from kilometres around. Revered contemporary film-maker Pedro Almodóvar¹ was born here, but left for Madrid in his teens. The town is pleasant, if unexceptional.

Actually, unexceptional doesn’t even begin to describe the town if you arrive by train (Campo de Criptana is on the mainline from Madrid to Albacete, the capital of Castile-La Mancha). Downright ugly might be a better description: as in many Spanish towns, the railway station is on the outskirts, in this case surrounded by industrial buildings of little appeal. Luckily, Campo de Criptana is a small place and fifteen minutes walk will bring you to the centre of town.

Which is unexceptional.

Statue of Cervantes, Campo de Criptana

But you don’t really want the centre of town. You’re a reader, a reader of Don Quixote at that, and what you want is the famous windmills, the giants that Don Quixote fought. Head uphill from the unexceptional Plaza Mayor with its obligatory Cervantes statue, through the Albaícin – the old Moorish quarter -, through the narrow cobblestoned alleys, between whitewashed houses edged in indigo blue… it sounds better already, doesn’t it? There. As you turn the corner, you spot your first windmill. And there are other nine to come.

Continue reading “Land of Giants”

El problema de las palabras (The Problem with Words)

La cita de hoy es una advertencia que siempre piensa antes de hablar.

Today’s quote is a reminder to always think before you speak.

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Arturo Pérez-Reverte (1951-)

El problema de las palabras es que, una vez echadas, no pueden volverse solas a su dueño. De modo que a veces te las vuelven en la punta de un acero.


The problem with words is that once spoken, they cannot find their way back to the speaker alone. Sometimes they have to be returned on the tip of a sword.

(Arturo Pérez-Reverte: Limpieza de sangre / Purity of Blood)

The Three (Spanish) Musketeers

Leer esto en español

A murderer at the the age of thirteen, exiled from Madrid… what future would have had a boy like that?

Well, it seems that he had a pretty interesting future. So interesting that later he considered it worthwhile to write his memoirs. So interesting in fact that these memoirs gave life to a character in a well-known – at least in Spain – novel. And this character, in turn, gave life to a character in a TV series…

Do you know who they are?

The Surrender of Breda by Diego Velázquez [Courtesy of the Museum of Prado, Madrid]

If you have seen the original Spanish version of this post, you may have noted that it contains several quotes by Eduardo Marquina. They are from his play En Flandes se ha puesto el sol, The Sun Has Set in Flanders. Unfortunately, I was unable to find an English translation of this work, and I most definitely draw the line at trying to translate poetry. My apologies, but apart from a brief excerpt, you'll just have to do without.

Continue reading “The Three (Spanish) Musketeers”

Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2018)

For certain unfortunate reasons I don’t wish to detail here, I struggled to keep the blog going last year and, as you might have noticed, there were times when weeks went by without me being able to publish any other post than the weekly quote. Nevertheless, I still did manage to read a few books… so to start the new year off (may it be better than the last), let’s look back on some of last year’s readings.

Books you might enjoy – or you’ll want to avoid! 🙂

Continue reading “Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2018)”

Pen Mightier than Sword (Pluma más poderosa que espada)

Authors with Sword in Hand

Throughout history, there were soldiers who wielded the pen with as much as skill as they wielded the sword; sometimes better.

Autores con la espada en mano

A lo largo de la historia, hubo soldados que manejaron la pluma con tanta habilidad que la espada; a veces, mejor.

Most of the literary output of these soldier-writers was, understandably, autobiographical: descriptions of battles and campaigns they took part in. A classic example of this is Xenophon’s Anabasis, better known as The March of the Ten Thousand, a gripping account of the retreat of ten thousand Spartan mercenaries in the wake of a lost battle across hostile territory, from Mesopotamia all the way to the shores of the Black Sea. Another is Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s The Conquest of New Spain, a similarly gripping (at least in the abridged version) account of how four-hundred desperadoes under Hernán Cortés conquered Mexico and overthrew an entire empire in the process. I warmly recommend them both.

La mayor parte de la producción literaria de estos soldados-escritores fue, naturalmente, autobiográfico: descripciones de batallas y campañas en que lucharon. Un ejemplar clásico de este tipo de libro es La anábasis de Jenofonte, mejor conocida con el título La marcha de los Diez Mil, un relato emocionante de la regresa de diez mil mercenarios espartanos después de una batalla perdida, a través de un territorio hostil, todo el camino desde Mesopotamia hasta las orillas del Mar Negro. Otro relato que es semejante emocionante (por lo menos en la versión abreviada) es la Historia verdadera de la conquista de Nueva España por Bernal Díaz del Castillo, que narra como cuatro cientos aventureros bajo el mando de Hernán Cortés han conquistado Mexico y derrocado un imperio entero en el proceso. Os recomiendo ambos libros.

But in addition to these authors, there were a handful of soldiers who are better known by literature professors than by military buffs; a handful of soldiers who are more famous for being authors than for ever having been soldiers.

Pero además de esos autores, hubo un puñado de soldados, que son mejor conocidos por profesores de literatura que por aficionados de la historia militar; un puñado de soldados que son más famosos por ser autores que por su pasado como soldados.

Meet five of them.

Aquí abajo puedes conocer a cinco de ellos.

Continue reading “Pen Mightier than Sword (Pluma más poderosa que espada)”

Six Mouse Clicks

The most boring type of blog post?

A book review.

They all follow the same predictable pattern – understandably. After all, a reader will rightfully expect information about the plot, the characters and the style of writing, with some tidbits about the author. The result, as with any genre writing, is a complete lack of creativity.

That is why, although Waterblogged is ostensibly a book blog, I was never really in the business of writing book reviews. Nevertheless, over the past three years I found myself writing a handful. There are books that are so good that you can’t help recommending them to others.

(There was, of course, an exception. You’ll find it here.)

Six reviews; six mouse clicks.  Six books you will want to read.

Fiction – English-Speaking Countries:

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Fiction – Spanish-Speaking Countries:

Death in the Andes

Fiction – Rest of the World:

Moscow Stations

History:

City of Fortune

Biography:

The Novel Life of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain

Autobiography:

The Bible in Spain

Throwback Thursday:
Revisiting the early days of Waterblogged