Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finishing up our Bilingual Guide of the Albyzin

Hello Everyone!
These last weeks of school have been busy for students and teachers alike. In spite of the hard work, it has been rewarding to see the fruits of our labor in the bilingual group! In AGG especially these last weeks have been very exciting. The bilingual guide is near finished and has been designed beautifully. For the guide, each student wrote about an aspect or area of the Albyzin in Spanish and English. Their writing drew on our guided tours of the Albyzin, books and materials covered in class as well as through independent research.

I would like to include a sample of one students work,

'Romantic Granada' by Elisabeth Martinez Romera

In the nineteenth century many came to Granada; distinguished travelers, romantic writers and artists from around the world, captivated by its oriental draw. The city is presented as the last bastion of Muslim influence in Europe. Attracting prestigious writers and artists such as Richard Ford, Alexander Dumas, and Washington Irving.

But of all, he whom most impacted the city, which conducted the first advertising campaign abroad and thus facilitated the arrival of more passengers and travelers, was without a doubt, the American writer Washington Irving.

He was born in New York and he imagined small stories of the Moors and Christians reading Spanish novels of the sixteenth century. Washington Irving was a known writer in America. He cared about other things, for he had a restless spirit. He traveled. Thanks to his travels, he came to Spain, whose story had intrigued him since long before he learned Spanish and lived as one of us. Although he came under the pretext of writing a story about Christopher Columbus and settled for a while in Seville, Granada was the city that fascinated him most. He came along with his nephew and a friend, Prince Dolgoruky. In 1829, he dared to live in the middle of the Alhambra, monuments left in his great hand, but saved for him by the governor.

The Alhambra was then a place frequented by beggars, for invalids of wars past, the very common paupers of nineteenth-century Granada. Irving, with his demeanor of gentleman, observed the life of the "Sons of the Alhambra", a title reserved for those born in the enclosure alhambreño. They often hunted swallows using flies for bait to feed their empty stomachs. During this time, the wretched old woman Reina Coquina, told him stories as did the crazy colonel who lived in the Puerta del Vino. He found these characters or 'sons' of the Alhambra to be delightfully human.

In his wandering through the halls of the Alhambra Irving found vandalism of Byron and Victor Hugo engraved on the walls that centuries before had delicately been decorated by Andalusian builders. Seeing this as unacceptable and encouraged by his friend the prince, he emerged with an idea that would be totally innovative, creating a signature book in which visitors could leave their signature.

Among the magnificent rooms, which were then goat shelter or Gypsies, came his most famous book, Tales of the Alhambra. It not only collected legends that became world famous, but reflected (perhaps with some imagination) the state it was in the city and the exhibition Nazari. It was the era of big tours the grand tour was called the rich intellectuals who roamed the exotic world under the pretext of learning to live. Travel guides texts were claimed, so Tales of the Alhambra, which was half a guide, half-dazzled fantastic story for these travelers, who saw in Spain a wild country, with its bandits and all, but at the same time offering the political stability of Europe.

Irving was the first to arrive to Spain and then followed such renowned characters as Mérimée (author of Carmen), Théophile Gautier (creator of The Mummy's novel), Alexander Dumas, (father of The Three Musketeers) or Hans Christian Andersen (idolized writer of children's stories). There were many more, of course, but these are all familiar.

Every traveler will appreciate one aspect of our country, if your climate, if your landscape, if their wives, if his Oriental appeal ... but Irving was set on something else, went beyond all cliché, delved into the roots of our past and our most remote discovered folklore, our legends and all of them won most original creativity inventing fantastic stories that are now seen as an extremely modern depiction and capture the attention of a public.

Irving's great contribution was to imagine elves living in the rooms where Boabdil did. With an oddly American wit dissociated the Alhambra in its most archaic Oriental style to make it romantic and pure, savage or primitive features that others thought they saw in Andalusian culture in later years. Something special about this monument of Granada is still studying it, from every perspective and those forgotten. So it is said that it is able to speak, which is not surprising, then epigraphy is in all its walls.

But one day, having become the sultan of that paradise, Irving had to go. It had been named Secretary of American Legation, a position that required him to return to the real world. The exile of his paradise was hard. Irving said these words to leave the palace: "Never in my life I lived a more delicious than this and I can never find another one like it." He never returned to the Alhambra.

Years later, he returned as his country's ambassador to Spain and lived in Madrid. Not even his long walks in El Retiro helped him forget Granada. This decision-to not set foot in Granada, he was widely criticized in Spain, for there were those who interpreted the absence of Paradise alhambreño contempt of oblivion. We now know that it was not. And in a real romance the lover always remains in ones memory.

Romantic Travelers in Granada
Romantic Travelers was issued in the Alhambra unknown and forgotten. It left the witness to the writers, painters and photographers who, with their descriptions, kept alive the image of the monument. Alongside archaeologists and teachers, whom have proved to be the guardians of the Alhambra.

I would like to take this opportunity to give a warm thanks to all the students and teachers who have made this year a wonderful one. Congratulations. I will miss you all!

1 comment:

crystal.travel6 said...
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