Snippet: Varela’s “Eugenio d’Ors” (biography)

Eugenio d'ors 1881-1954 (p. Gaziel 2016) - Javier Varela Tortajada

Javier Varela, Eugenio D’Ors, 1881-1954, 2017, 576 p.

Gaziel biography and memoirs prize 2016 [video of the award ceremony (Spanish)]

publisher’s summary:

During the course of his life, Eugenio d’Ors, aka Xenius, was a Catalan nationalist, trade unionist, monarchist, and finally a falangista [Spanish fascist; cf. Wikipedia]. He also was an extraordinary intellectual, art critic, patient writer of an extensive “Glossary” in Catalan and in Spanish, and definitely one of the most interesting authors of Spain during the first half of the 20th century.

Such a relevant, complex figure, full of contrasts, needed a biography that examined in unitary form all of his facets. In an exhaustive and never complacent manner, Eugenio d’Ors (1881-1953) brings to light the brilliant and original writer, the formidable creator of aphorisms, the politically changing man, to claim his real importance in the Catalan, Spanish and European context of the past century.

excerpts from a review by Adolfo Sotelo Vázquez:

A splendid intellectual biography

Javier Varela (Madrid, 1952) is a distinguished scholar of Spanish political thought…

This dense… biography is written like an erudite story with an ambition to style. A style characterized by fluency and rhythm… the biography is attractive, elegant and at the same time solid… It is an intellectual biography because it narrates the life of the writer but also the moral, aesthetic and political map that surrounds him in Catalonia, Spain, and Europe.

… Varela sintethizes in a masterful way the influence of Maurras in Catalonia… and he points out the creative translation of Maurras’ set of ideas undertaken by d’Ors in Catalonia. The author studies rigorously the écritures du jour [daily columns] that d’Ors produced during more than 15 years for the Barcelona press. … The works of the years 1906 and 1907 “throb” with the ethical and aesthetic principles of the Noucentisme [movement], … the qualities of willingness, proportion and balance.

During the second decade of the 20th century d’Ors practised a kind of “intellectual dictatorship” in Barcelona: apart from his newspaper contributions, he was secretary of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans [Institute of Catalan Studies], a teacher at the Escola de Bibliotecàries [female librarians’ school], director of the Quaderns d’Estudi [study notes; probably a magazine], director of the Seminari de Filosofia i Psicologia [Philology and Psychology Seminary], …

Hi rich and polemic personality, his extraordinary culture and his enormous capacity for daily work, materialized in an ocean of journalistic contributions (“a highly intelligent commentator of the evanescent present,” in a precise phrase by Varela). And also his eagerness to demonstrate his virtues as a writer in Catalan and in Spanish. D’Ors lived with his dandyism, his vanity, his cinicism, with his intellectual arrogance. These were the aspects of his masks.

This blogger read some of d’Ors’ early 20th century articles and was impressed by his culture and his beautiful style in Catalan, in quality very similar to the prose by Josep Pla.

SOURCE: RBA (publisher); review in “Cultura/s,” La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, pp. 4-5 [printed edition]

Snippet: Montesinos on Thoreau

Toni Montesinos, El triunfo de los principios: cómo vivir con Thoreau [The triumph of principles: how to live with Thoreau], 2017, 552 p.

publisher’s summary:

Henry David Thoreau is often associated with civil disobedience, in a context of the fight against slavery and the war in a United States that was still in formation, and with the attraction that he felt for the life of the Native Americans. But the truth is that this observer of nature and of human behavior touched in his day all that which is important for us today. In Walden, but also in his other books, diaries and letters, he spoke from an autobiographic perspective on friendship, love, economics, education, politics, religion, social hypocrisy… Always settling on firm ideas and practicing austerity, trusting in his senses and intution, with the willingness to make his present something transcendental.

El triunfo de los principios is a biography of Thoreau and at the same time a tour through his reflections and experiences, a questioning of our actual life from that lived in the middle of the 19th century in a small village in Massachusetts, Concord, where also resided Emerson, Hawthorne and L.M. Alcott. The intelligence and beauty of his writings, in which stand out the ironic or convincing tone on his fellow citizens, his faith in self-confidence, in goodness as the best investment, in the elimination of self-imposed necessities, will suggest to us to understand, to say it with his words, the essence of life, and make of carpe diem, sincerity and simplicity a lighthouse of behavior and daily thinking.

Toni Montesinos (Barcelona, 1972) is a writer and literary critic.

The Wikipedia has got this article on Henry David Thoreau whose 200th birthday is on July 12, 2017.

SOURCE: Ariel (Planeta, publisher)

Snippet: Aldekoa’s “Children of the Nile”

Xavier Aldekoa, Hijos del Nilo [Children of the Nile], 2017, 312 p.

publisher’s summary:

The Nile is not a river. The most important African river is the heart of hundreds of villages and the indefatigable witness of the rise and decline of the mightiest Pharaoh dynasties in the world. Its name evokes secrets hidden in pyramides and feeds the pride of milenary civilizations that still today fight for their survival.

The Nile is today the peace in the north of Uganda but also the war in Southern Sudan; it’s life in the valleys of Ethiopia and death in the dungeons of Egypt and Sudan. It is dictatorship, inequality, progress, hope and longing for liberty. It is also the dream of a revolution. Despite its scars, the Nile is still the craddle of the mixture of the great African and Mediterranean cultures of the past and the present.

During various months Xavier Aldekoa travelled the Nile river, from its sources to its mouth, to discover its peoples, its cultures and its traditions. Through the stories of those who live on its shores he brings us closer to other worlds that, despite all, are not that far away. Because the Nile is a soul piece of western culture. A chance to look at the different. To understand the other and to understand ourselves.

We are all children of the Nile.

At the book presentation in Barcelona, Aldekoa was accompanied by Jordi Évole, a journalist who dedicates his Sunday night prime-time investigative TV show to important topics, such as the refugee crisis on the Mediterranean, ALS and euthanasia, etc.

SOURCE: Planeta (publisher)

Snippet: Lisbon book fair 2017


86ª Feira do Livro de Lisboa

DATE: June 1 – 18, 2017

PLACE: Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon

EVENT: the biggest Lisbon Book Fair ever: 602 editorial brands in 286 pavillions; opening  with a “children’s day”; a special interest in cookbooks and show cooking;  more than 40 restaurants, including seafood and vegetarian ones; special childcare and pet refreshing areas to favour family visits; a “happy hour” for book sales with discounts of up to 50% (10-11 pm); 500,000 visitors expected.

SOURCE: Feira do Livro (organizer); Diário de Notícias, June 1, 2017;  RTP (Portuguese state tv and radio station)

Not literary: Norman Foster Foundation Madrid

To be opened on June 1, 2017 with a forum “Future Is Now”.

74,000 items, among them 400 models of the most important buildings, 1,239 notebooks with sketches, 8,000 project drawings, 56,000 photos, his professional library and archive, correspondence and memorabilia, an art collection and a collection of industrial objects.

Spaces for classes and seminars to put into practice the investigative, academic and multidisciplinary vocation of the institution to prepare new generations to… create a better world. To be open to researchers and young students who would like to develop interdisciplinary projects in which merge architecture, the new technologies and the challenges of the future.

“One has to ask oneself what diferentiates a city that depends on the car from one that doesn’t. One has to ask oneself what lessons we learn from a dense, traditional city, with quality of life and a controlled energy consumption, if we compare it with American cities that colonize a lot of space, that depend on the car and that waste energy.”

“Everything is related to the way of creating energy, to achieve that buildings function better, that their users feel better inside them, living in a healtier way, and all of this without leading to a significantly higher bill on the way.”

Norman Foster in an interview with La Vanguardia

Foster describes Madrid as a dense city with relatively few skyscrapers where you are not dependent on a car. [Which is true if you are very well off and can live in a posh neighbourhood such as Chamberí in the center; though the air-quality in all of Madrid is often below of what EU standards consider “healthy”. Maybe his foundation will help to change that…]

SOURCE: Norman Foster Foundation; Llàtzer Moix, La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, pp. 34-36 [printed edition]

Snippet: a selection of Portuguese writers

With Portugal as the guest country of the Madrid Book Fair 2017, Xavi Ayén presented some of the contemporary Portuguese writers whose works have been translated into Spanish or Catalan:

Gonçalo Tavares: Breus notes sobre literatura-Bloom [Short notes on literature – Bloom], an “ingenious personal dictionary on literature”; Una niña está perdida en el siglo XX [A girl lost in the 20th century]; Un viatge a l’Índia [A journey to India]. There is a 2015 post on this author.

Afonso Cruz: Dónde están los paraguas [Where the umbrellas are], on the links between Orient and Occident, military intervention, unnecessary suffering; La Muñeca de Kokoschka [Kokoschka’s doll or Kokoschka’s wrist (?)], Jesucristo bebía cerveza [Jesus Christ drank beer]. No older post. doesn’t list any book in English.

António Lobo Antunes: No es medianoche quien quiere [It’s not midnight who wants]; L’esplendor de Portugal [The splendor of Portugal]; 30 books more. 2014 post. lists around a dozen as available in English.

Lídia Jorge: La costa de los murmullos [The coast of the murmurs] on the end of the Portuguese empire; El fugitivo que dibujaba pájaros [The fugitive who drew birds], on country life from the 1930 to the 1980s. 2015 and 2014 posts. lists the mentioned books as available in English.

Valter Hugo Mae: El paradís són els altres [Paradise are the others], on what happens in a marriage where there’s no more love, through a girl’s eyes; La máquina de hacer españoles [The machine to make Spaniards], on a widower in an old-age residence where he meets a lot of strange characters. Wikipedia article. doesn’t list any translations into English.

José Luís Peixoto: En tu vientre [In your bosom], on the apparition of Our Lady of Fàtima to the shepherd girl Lucía. From a 2014 post: José Luís Peixoto (Galveias, Portalegre, 1974, homepage, Wikipedia), Galveias [author’s birthplace]. doesn’t list any translations into English.

Ana Luísa Amaral: Oscuro [Dark], poems on Portuguese national identity. lists the poetry collection The Art of Being a Tiger.

Joao de Melo: Autopsia de un mar en ruinas [Autopsy of a sea in ruins], on the colonial desaster in Angola; Gente feliz con lágrimas [Happy People in Tears], his best known work, a family saga with a lot of different voices that begins in his home region of the Azores. lists Happy People in Tears as available in English.

SOURCE: Xavi Ayén, La Vanguardia, May 27, 2017, p. 40 [printed edition]