The Spaniards in Their History

The Spaniards in Their History

The Spaniards in Their History

The Spaniards in Their History

Excerpt

The celebrated Essay of Ramón Menéndez Pidal on the Spaniards in their History, which we publish for the first time in English, has awakened a great deal of interest, not only in Europe but also in America. It was the first official utterance after the tragic Civil War by one who is acknowledged to be the patriarch of humanism in the Spanish world, and at the same time it sums up a great deal of the achievement of the last fifty years in research into the Spanish Middle Ages. To understand the full significance of this Essay it is necessary to be well acquainted with the life-work of this doyen of Spanish scholars. For this reason I have preceded the Essay by an Introduction on his life work, and my intention was that it should appear in 1949 in time for the eightieth birthday of Don Ramón, a small contribution among the many that will swell the volume of homage which is being published in Spain in the Master's honour.

To understand Menéndez Pidal's personality it is not enough to follow him through the libraries, the lecture halls, or the research laboratories. My earliest meetings with him were during the years 1921-4 and even then I remember how significant were his remarks about his wanderings through the pueblos of Castile. His book on the minstrels was my favourite 'knapsack volume' when I roamed through La Mancha and Andalusia in the years 1928-35. Hence the immense importance of his life study of the Romancero and its derivatives throughout the world. At times his ballad-chasing recalls the magic personality of our own Cecil Sharp in the Appalachians, and Menéndez Pidal would certainly nod assent to that king who said that he did not mind who made the laws of the country but it was vitally important who composed the ballads.

The Essay on the Spaniards in their History was written by the man who, more than any other Spaniard, has tried to collect together the complete ballad lore of Spain, in the belief that the Romancero is a kind of everlasting plebiscite in favour of . . .

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