Friday, March 25, 2016

Penguin Clásicos

I did a double-take when I caught sight of these beauties in the bookshop at Zenia Boulevard. Could it really be, I wondered: a Spanish-language equivalent to our own esteemed treasury of Penguin Classics, a collection of world literature but with the focus naturally set not on the Anglo-Saxon but the Hispanic?  

Well, yes and no, as it turns out. All the ones I've seen are 2015/2016 re-badges of classic editions that originally appeared in some other Spanish series, and the resemblance to our own Penguin Classics starts and ends with the jackets. Within, they resemble other typical Spanish editions of classics: for example, the introductions are in a rather standard format that begins with historical background, then the author's life and work, then a bit about the work itself and its reception, and finally quotations of mainly appreciative comments by earlier authors and scholars. I can't help noticing the marked gender disparity among the editors; editing Spanish classics is still an almost entirely male preserve. 

Random House are serious about the Penguin Clásicos, though, with a steady stream of new releases, as documented here: .

There's a good few translations of classics from other languages: for instance I noticed Poe, Austen, Stoker, Shakespeare and Zola (La obra). But of course it's the wealth of Spanish-language items that I couldn't resist sampling. 

While on holiday I struggled through the most famous poem by Jorge Manrique, a 15th century nobleman writing in the fierce throes of the end of the feudal age, and now I'm in the middle of reading, with somewhat less difficulty, Lope's brilliant 1608 play Peribañez

A night-time view of Avenida Desiderio Rodriguez in Torrevieja, my favourite street in the whole world (not that I am by any means an expert in streets). I had intended to give the Avenida its own blog post, but my internet searches failed to supply even the slightest information about who Don Desiderio Rodriguez was. It's a long straight wide street leading south from the centre of Torrevieja, next to the coast but, except at Playa de Naufragos, separated from it by apartment blocks. At the Torrevieja end it passes by the Puerto - a beach within the harbour - and Acequíon, the irrigation channel that connects the sea with the salt lake. Here, I always think, is the spiritual and practical heart of the town; because Torrevieja has been a town of salt and habaneras for much longer than it's been today's extraordinary urban experiment in sunny living for residents who between them, it's said, speak more than 100 languages. Here at Parque Doña Sinforosa or in the Plaza Islas Canarias it's very apparent that Torrevieja is still a thoroughly Spanish town. 

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