In Search of Duende
By: Federico Garcia Lorca
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
The notion of “duende”—a demonic earth spirit embodying irrationality, earthiness, and a heightened awareness of death—became a cornerstone of Lorca’s poetics. In Search of Duende gathers Lorca’s writings about the duende and three art forms susceptible to it: dance, music, and the bullfight. A bilingual sampling of Lorca’s poetry is also included, making this an excellent introduction to Lorca’s poetry and prose for American readers.
I had no idea this book existed until I was wandering around the poetry aisles the last time I was at the bookstore. I love the cover of the book too; the minimalist look is absolutely soothing and eye-catching *hearts and stars* Anyway, I had no idea Lorca had delivered a few lectures when he was in New York–which makes total sense, of course–so I thought it was cool that a publishing company had compiled them along with some of his poems.
Are you surprised at all that I really liked this book? It was a fascinating collection of lectures he had delivered accompanied by some of his poems that reinforce some of the points he makes about the Spanish culture around duende and the artistic/cultural scene. Having read all of the his poems, his lectures on duende were quite illuminating, not only about Spanish culture and, to a lesser extent, Spanish and Andalusian identity, but also to his own poetry and why he wrote the way he did, and the steeped history that he worked from and inherited from previous artists and singers and poets. Duende is such a mysterious concept, and yet it’s something so deep and inherent in human experience that it came only be expressed in poetry (which then leads to the next question as to whether contemporary Spanish poets or poets hailing from Andalusia still write with duende infused somewhere in their work). The supplementary poetry nicely reflects the themes and points that Lorca makes in his essays and of course like his poetry, his lectures are quite beautifully written.
Would I recommend In Search of Duende to first-time Lorca readers? Likely not, if only I think you need to be a bit familiar with his poetry to appreciate where he’s coming from in explaining duende and why it’s so important. But this book is an excellent companion piece to his poetry and I highly recommend checking it out if you have read his works before.
Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository
The Frozen Heart
By: Almudena Grandes
Format/Source: Paperback; my own copy
In a small town on the outskirts of Madrid, a funeral is taking place. Julio Carrion Gonzalez, a man of tremendous wealth and influence in Madrid, has come home to be buried. But as the family stand by the graveside, his son Alvaro notices the arrival of an attractive stranger—no one appears to know who she is, or why she is there. Alvaro’s questions deepen when the family inherits an enormous amount of money, a surprise even to them. In his father’s study Alvaro discovers an old folder with letters sent to his father in Russia between 1941 and 1943, faded photos of people he never met, and a locked grey metal box. The woman is Raquel Fernandez Perea, the daughter of Spaniards who fled during the Civil War. From the provincial heartlands of Spain to the battlefields of Russia, this is a mesmerizing journey through a war that tore families apart, pitting fathers against sons, brothers against brothers, and wives against husbands. Against such a past, where do faith and loyalty lie?
At long last, everyone, I have read it, I have read Almudena Grandes’ The Frozen Heart. It only sat on my TBR pile and my bookshelf for a couple years…Kept meaning to pick it up but as the book spans a good 800 pages, you really need to carve out a bit of time to just focus on this book. But anyway, I finally did it, finally picked it up 🙂
By: Federico Garcia Lorca
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
A revised edition of this major writer’s complete poetical work
And I who was walking
with the earth at my waist,
saw two snowy eagles
and a naked girl.
The one was the other
and the girl was neither.
-from “Qasida of the Dark Doves”
Federico García Lorca is the greatest poet of twentieth-century Spain and one of the world’s most influential modernist writers. Christopher Maurer, a leading García Lorca scholar and editor, has substantially revised FSG’s earlier edition of the collected poems of this charismatic and complicated figure, who-as Maurer says in his illuminating introduction-“spoke unforgettably of all that most interests us: the otherness of nature, the demons of personal identity and artistic creation, sex, childhood, and death.”
Regular readers of this blog knows that Federico Garcia Lorca is one of my favourite poets ever. I can’t remember how I first encountered his poems–I think someone had used one of his poems in their fanart and I just fell in love with the way he strung his words. After reading a selection of his poems, I realised I made a mistake: I should have bought his Collected Poems instead of his Selected Verse. Oops, but then I didn’t know that I would love his works as much as I do. Well, I finally corrected that mistake when I picked up this volume earlier this year 😉
So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
So summer’s winding down a bit, and so for this month’s So You Want to Read… I’m going to be featuring books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Hands down he is one of my favourite authors, he really writes Gothic novels well and has written quite a number of books for both adults and children. It’s hard to describe, but he really sets the atmosphere up for his novels that it really feels like you’re there in the streets of Barcelona. There’s a splash of magical realism, of the supernatural, but it feels so rooted in our world.
So while we’re waiting for his next novel to come out (please please please let this be soon!), here’s some books by him to check out from him if you’re interested in reading his books for the first time:
- The Shadow of the Wind (commentary) — The book that started it all for me. It’s his most popular title, and with good reason: it’s mysterious, it’s absorbing, it’s absolutely atmospheric. There’s plenty of intrigue and danger and drama and humourous moments to go around. Book lovers and avid readers will especially enjoy this (the Cemetery of Forgotten Books? I wish such a place existed!) and can relate to Daniel and his love of reading. I love how Zafon brought Barcelona to life in this novel, it will leave you wanting to go there! (which I ended up doing haha)
- The Angel’s Game (review) — This books gets a bit of flack for not being TSOTW despite it having been released after it. It’s a prequel of sorts, but it also works like a standalone. If The Shadow of the Wind focuses on the reader, The Angel’s Game focuses on the writer and the writer’s craft. The supernatural/Gothic elements are also much more to the fore in this novel than in TSOTW, but it’s still a fascinating read and definitely worth checking out (especially as it ties in afterwards to The Prisoner of Heaven (review).
- Marina (review) — Of all of Zafon’s young adult titles, this book stands out as my favourite. It’s also a standalone (unlike the other three books in his Niebla series), which is great. It reminds me a lot of TSOTW with the Gothic undertones and its setting in old Barcelona. There’s a lot in this novel–mystery, action, drama, a coming-of-age story, themes of death and memory. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you checked out TSOTW and loved it.
I hope this list helps if you’re interested in reading something by Carlos Ruiz Zafon for the first time! If you’ve read his books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
By: Marcus Giralt Torrente
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
Paris depicts a man’s journey through the labyrinth of his memories, a search for his origins that will uncover an old family secret and turn his world upside down. A mesmerizing and haunting story by award-winning author Marcos Giralt Torrente, a master craftsman calibrating nuance and impact with a true gift.
I picked this book up during a sale on Kobo. I never heard of the author or the book before encountering it on Kobo, but I quickly learned that the author is Spanish and, as someone keen on reading more literature by Spanish authors, I thought it would be interesting to check out this title.