Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Spanish Gypsy: A History of a European Obsession

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Spanish Gypsy: A History of a European Obsession

Article excerpt

The Spanish Gypsy; A History of a European Obsession, by Lou Charnon-Deutsch. Penn State, May 2004. $39.95

Ah, yes, Spain and the gypsies. We think we know so much about both of them from our readings of Dumas and Michener, from our love affair with Bizet and Carmen. We expect to see them on the streets of Sevilla and Granada (we do, in fact), and we pull in, protecting our pockets and purses from their hungry fingers. We know them, and we turn our eyes away. Yet such prejudicial and hackneyed generalizations hardly begin to reveal to us the complex, moving, and often tragic story of the "Romany people," whose remote origins and marginal existence have enriched the Western imagination. Lou CharnonDeutsch sets out to look dispassionately at the history of the gypsies and their representation in Western art and literature, with an emphasis on Spain. She peels back the accumulated mysteries surrounding these people and states: "One of the reasons that Gypsies hold such fascination is that they play an important role in the evolution of Western myths of origin and being" (4). Each country and each time period seems to bring forth a new gypsy myth, layering old beliefs onto new fears and racial stereotypes. …

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