Catalonia: A Cultural History

Catalonia: A Cultural History

Catalonia: A Cultural History

Catalonia: A Cultural History

Synopsis

In Catalonia, Michael Eaude illuminates the cultural and literary history of one of the world's most intriguing places--from the stunning modern architecture of Barcelona, to the medieval Bendictine abbey at Montserrat, to the ancient Roman ruins of Tarragona. Eaude takes us on a revealing tour of Catalonia's breathtaking landscape, from the Pyrenees to the Costa Brava, recounting the region's rich history and relating tales of Catalonia's most colorful figures, such as Abbot Aliva, who brought Moorish learning to Europe; the ruthless mercenary,Roger de Flor; and Jacint Verdaguer, the handsome nineteenth-century poet-priest. Of course, Catalonia is famous for its twentieth-century art. This book sheds light on the revolutionary Art Nouveau buildings (including the Sagrada Familia) and Antoni Gaudi and it also explores the region's artisticlegacy: the young Picasso painting Barcelona's vibrant slums; Salvador Dali, inspired by the twisted rocks of Cap de Creus to paint his landscapes of the human mind; and Joan Miro, discovering the colors of the red earth at Montroig. Drawing on social history, literature local and foreign, the arts and music, Catalonia will dramatically change how we view the topography of one of the most vibrant regions of Spain.

Excerpt

Many foreigners visit Catalonia today for art. Its capital, Barcelona, has risen in the last twenty years to stand alongside Venice or Paris as one of Europe’s great destinations for cultural breaks. Catalonia’s architecture, combining medieval Romanesque and twentiethcentury Art Nouveau, is an experience difficult to find elsewhere. And Salvador Dali, despite his complexity and sexual explicitness, is an extremely accessible and popular painter.

Architecture and painting give Catalonia its prestige. Most visitors, though, come for cheap alcohol and sun holidays. Millions are drawn to the coastal beaches and towns. More Britons know the Costa Brava than Paris or Rome. A linked attraction today is the reputation of Catalonia as a place to live well, with great bars in the beautiful surrounds of Barcelona’s Born, mestissa music, famous and original food. It is the modern version of the Latin poet Martial’s dream of Tarragona: here we know how to live, not too hot, not too cold, with sea and mountains, working hard yet knowing how to relax…

Catalans often refer to their own country as a terra de pas, a place people pass through, a thoroughfare. It is a comforting view of the homeland. It implies that they are open, a mix, with people passing through down the centuries, each leaving their traces behind. This feeling of being a terra de pas is represented most dramatically by Josep Maria Sert’s startling paintings in the cathedral of Vic, Catalonia’s religious capital, of pagan Hannibal’s elephants, which passed through 2,200 years ago. It is also reflected in the melting-pot of Catalan food, fusing Italian, French and Spanish styles into an original cuisine.

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