The Basque Country: A Cultural History [NOOK Book]


The Basque Country is a land of fascinating paradoxes and enigmas. Home to one of Europe's oldest peoples and most mysterious languages, with a living folklore rich in archaic rituals and dances, it also boasts a dynamic modern energy, with the reinvention of Bilbao creating a model for the twenty-first-century city.

In The Basque Country, Paddy Woodworth takes us on a sweeping tour of this enchanting land. We discover a small territory which abounds in big contrasts, ranging ...

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The Basque Country: A Cultural History

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The Basque Country is a land of fascinating paradoxes and enigmas. Home to one of Europe's oldest peoples and most mysterious languages, with a living folklore rich in archaic rituals and dances, it also boasts a dynamic modern energy, with the reinvention of Bilbao creating a model for the twenty-first-century city.

In The Basque Country, Paddy Woodworth takes us on a sweeping tour of this enchanting land. We discover a small territory which abounds in big contrasts, ranging from moist green valleys to semi-desert badlands, from snowy sierras to sandy beaches, from harsh industrial landscapes to bucolic beech woods. The book reveals how this often idyllic scenery forms the backdrop for a land of ancient and modern culture, where Basque poets still compose spontaneous stanzas in public contests and where strange age-old sports—rock lifting, goose decapitation—are still held at fiestas. Likewise, the region has made important contributions to modern culture, through novelists like Bernardo Atxaga, sculptors like Eduardo Chillida, painters like Zuluoaga, and cineastes like Julio Medem. And of course Bilbao's flagship museum, the Guggenheim, designed by Frank O. Gehry, may be the best work of architecture of the last century.

Here then is a marvelous guide to the culture and landscape of one of the most intriguing places on Earth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Basque Country is full of gems.... Woodworth has a good eye for architecture and topography.... This is a splendid portrait of a bewitching land."—Financial Times

"An enthralling homage...deserves to rank as [the] companion of Julio Medem's film, The Basque Ball."—The Sunday Tribune

"A terrific modern introduction to the Basque Country...succeeds in showing us the complexities of the Basque struggle for identity."—Irish Times

"He weaves a rich tapestry from his catalogue of stories and journeys but is not slow to criticise, often with acerbic wit...knows his subject intimately...a roller-coaster ride around the region...expands our idea of identity in a world of sameness...more than a travel book. Through this valuable record of a culture surviving, often thriving, we share a richness and depth often missing from modern life. Woodworth guides us down that road with style and intensity, until you want to savour the uniqueness of the Basque country first-hand."—Sunday Business Post

"A spectacular achievement by any standards. Definitive in scope and lyrical in to set alongside any of the finest travel writing of recent decades."—The Hot Press

"A marvellous book...subtle and ironic...he has] an exasperated love for this buy this book if you are going to the Basque Country, or if you have no intention of ever going but enjoy armchair exploration."—The Dubliner

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199886890
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/4/2007
  • Series: Landscapes of the Imagination
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,063,013
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Paddy Woodworth has written about the Basque Country for thirty years, and is the author of Dirty War, Clean Hands: ETA, the GAL and Spanish Democracy, described by Paul Preston as "one of the best books ever published on post-Franco Spain."

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Preface     xv
Introduction: Land of Stone, Iron and Glass: Land of the Basques     xix
Ancient and Modern     xxv
Wherixe Are We, Exactly? And What Will We Call This Place?     1
The Urban-Rural Divide     6
A Short Version of a Long History: From the Stone Age to the Civil War     13
Anthropology and the Skull of the Basque Ancestor     15
A Stone-Age Language?     18
Not One Nationalism, but Three     21
The Basque Sense of Difference     24
Sancho: The Greatest Basque Political Figure?     26
Special Rights and the Ancestral Oak     28
The Carlist Wars: The Basque Rift Deepens     29
Sabino Arana: Inventor of Basque Nationalism     32
The Civil War: The PNV Stands-Reluctantly-with the Republic     35
A Nightwatchman in Navarre, a Conquistador in Bilbao     36
Bai, Bai, Urdaibai: Cave Paintings, Painted Trees, Tree of Gernika     39
Santimamine and Farua: Palaeolithic Paintings, Roman Smelters     41
Txatxaramendi: The Fishing Industry Learns to Fly     43
Mundaka: Surfers, Ecologists, a Left-handed Wave     46
Oma's Enchanted Forest: A Threat to the Basque Nation?     51
Gernika: Democracy, Bombs and Paradoxes     55
The Fronton at the Heart of Life: The Power and Beauty of Pelota     63
More Than a Game     66
Lions, Foxes and Magic Moments     70
Cinco Villas: Pio Baroja, Flying Mari, Sword Dances and Sorcery     73
An Enemy in His Own Country?     77
Plagiarizing his Native Place     78
Etxalar: Witches, Pigeon Shoots and Carmen     82
Lesaka: River Dancers in Little Venice     87
Iganzi, Arantza: Healing Waters, Baserriak for BMWs     91
Gastronomy: Some Answers to the Most Urgent Basque Question     95
From Itziar to Washington and Back     98
A Few Snacks in Asteasu     101
Wow, Bilbao! The Transformation of a Tough City     103
A City Built on Iron, Wood and Water     107
From Ruin to Resurrection     112
Washing the City's Face, Lifting its Citizens' Hearts     116
Jokes on the Path to Spectacular Success     117
We Ain 't Seen Nothing Yet...     119
Re-imagining the River     120
Dark Heart, Dying Mines     122
The Passion Flower of Revolution     126
Seven Streets     129
The City of Iron Becomes the City of Titanium     133
From the Labour to Music as a Labour of Love     135
Saved from Extinction: The Alboka     138
Obaba in Asteasu: The Basque Village as a Literary Universe     141
Truths Wrapped in a Tissue of Fictions     146
Putting Euskera on the Literary Map     153
Serious Fun: Fiestas in Laguardia     159
The Real Gods of the Fiesta     163
A Spontaneous Chorus for the Virgin     165
Don't Mention the War: The Dark Side of Basque-and Spanish-Politics     171
A Fetish for Violence, a Fashion for Revolution     175
The Death Squads of a Democratic State     179
Socializing the Suffering: A Teenage Intifada     183
Regarding ETA as a Higher Power     184
Bay of Biscay: Whales, Belle Epoque, Decapitated Geese, Sexual Politics     189
Lekeitio: Dancing on a Casket     194
Getaria: The Aesthetics of an Egg     198
Belle Epoque: Zarautz, Biarritz, San Sebastian     200
Lekeitio II: Decapitating Geese     204
Gender Wars: Hondarribia and Irun     208
Navarre: Heartland or Hinterland?     213
The Camino de Santiago: Piety and Pleasure     218
Burguete to the Ebro: Hemingway's Hotel, a Magical Church, a Borgia's Tomb     220
The Heart of Navarre: Olite, Artajona, Ujue, Galipienzo     225
The Bardenas: Badlands Full of Life     232
Mountain High: Pleasure, Penitence and Pagan Gods     239
In Search of Sanctuary     240
Iparralde: The Basques on the Other Side of the Mountains     245
Symbols and Substance: Being Basque in Iparralde     249
Petit Bayonne: Cosy Streets, Dirty War and a Fine Museum     253
Biarritz and St.-Jean-de-Luz: Faded Glories, Pleasing Melancholy     256
Biriatou and Sara: Calvinist Catholics and the Evils of Procrastination     259
Bidarrai to Baigorri: Under the Mountains' Skirts     264
At the End of the Basque World: Saint Engrace, Larrau, Migrating Raptors and a Tribute of Three Cows     266
Afterword: The Reality of Magic, the Magic of Reality     271
Further Reading     277
Glossary     281
Index of Names & Organizations     285
Index of Places & Landmarks     288
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  • Posted June 30, 2010

    Informative, interesting and easy to read!!

    Posted June 30, 2010, 5:41 PM EST: I have to say that I am actually a Basque person myself and that I enjoyed every single word and every single page of this book: in my opinion you don't need to love the Basque people to start reading the book... but once you read the book, you cannot but help it loving us...:-) The book is not just a cultural or historical book or a travel guide of the Basque Country. Well, it could be considered to be a mixture of the above, but I would say that the book goes far beyond the specifics of depicting the Basque people: the book is more like a celebration of human identity, of our universal need of belonging to a group (any at all!!): In a nutshell the book "The Basque Country" is a hymn to the beauty of belonging to the human race!!!! no more, no less. God bless the author for that.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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