The Man From La Mancha

Posted on November 1, 2016 by | Posted in about LibriVox, Blog, Books, For Volunteers, Monthly Picks, News | Comments: Comments Off

Spanish is the second most spoken native tongue on the planet – and this month, we will celebrate our Spanish speaking librivoxers with 10 gems from our catalog written by Spanish authors.

When discussing Spanish writers, you cannot pass over Miguel de Cervantes. Living in poverty throughout his childhood, and never able to live from his writing, he is now considered the greatest novelist in the Spanish tongue. His Exemplary Novels are a collection of his shorter writings – also available in the original Spanish.

Instant fame was bestowed upon Fernan Caballero on the publication of the first novel. However, behind the pseudonym hides Cecilia Böhl de Faber, who, widowed three times, nevertheless wrote all thorugh her life. Cuentos, Adivinanzas y Refranes Populares collects 39 of her short stories and poems.

By far not so lucky was Doña Juana of Spain, daughter of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. She was devastated at the loss of her husband and was thenceforth known as “the Mad”. Historia de la célebre Reina de España Doña Juana, llamada vulgarmente La Loca is a short biography of hers, written by an unknown author.

Another autobiography on our list is The Life of St. Teresa. St. Teresa of Avila (or: St. Teresa of Jesus) was a Roman Catholic mystic from Spain, and her books about contemplative life are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as of Catholic literature. We also have a Spanish recording of this book.

An important writer of the Spanish Golden Age is Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Orphaned as a child, he wanted to take orders, but studied law instead. He finally became a playwright and wrote more than 70 plays, some of which were already translated into English in the 17th century. In the comedy La Dama Duende he pokes fun at the prevalent superstition of his age.

Another law student turned writer is Juan Ramón Jiménez, born in Andalucia. He was a very prolific writer as well: His first books were published when he was only 18, and with 74, two years before his death, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Platero y Yo is a cute little prose diary – of a donkey.

You may not know him by name, but many of his stories were made into Hollywood movies: Vicente Blasco Ibañez. Born in Valencia, he studied law, and became a politician, journalist, and best selling author. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a ripping yarn about two Argentinian families in WWI.

Of equally grave consequences was the death of general Francisco Franco of Spain. The Constitución Española de 1978 is the major document to ease the transition from dictatorship to democracy – even more so since this change was supported by both the people, and the royal court in Madrid.

Also set in Madrid is Insolación about a short lived love affair in the city’s unbearable summer heat. It was written by Emilia Pardo Bazán, who was born in Galicia. She counts among the chiefs of the naturalistic movent in Spain, as well as of feminist literature.

There are many more interesting Spanish authors, we cannot list them all here. However, 50 more and their poems are collected in Las Cien Mejores Poesías de la Lengua Castellana.

Enjoy getting to know authors from Spain!

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