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Squeezed between more powerful France and Spain, Catalonia has endured a violent history. Its medieval empire that conquered Naples, Sicily and Athens was crushed by Spain. Its geography, with the Pyrenees falling sharply to the rugged Costa Brava, is tormented, too.
Michael Eaude traces this history and it monuments: roman Tarragona, celebrated by the poet Martial; Greek Empúries, lost for centuries beneath the sands; medieval Romanesque architecture in the Vall de Bo:i churches (a World Heritage Series) and Poblet and Santes Creus monasteries. He tells the stories of several of Catalonia's great figures: Abbot Olivia, who brought Moorish learning to Europe, the ruthless mercenary, Roger de Flor, and Verdaguer, handsome poet-priest.
Catalonia is famous today for its twentieth-century art. This book focuses on the revolutionary Art Nouveau buildings (including the Sagrada Família) of Antoni Gaudí. It also explores the region's artistic legacy: the young Picasso painting Barcelona's vibrant slums; Salvador Dalí, inspired by the twisted rocks of Cap de Creus to paint his landscapes of the human mind; and Joan Miró, discovering the colors of the red earth at Montroig.
Part One: Birth and Rebirth of a Nation
1. The First Town in Spain. Portbou
2. Mediterranean: The Center of the Earth. Tarragona
3. Romanesque Catalonia. The Pyrenees
4. Glory and Rapine. Poblet and Athens
5. The Poet-Priest and the Indiano. Verdaguer
6. The Lancashire of Spain. Gaudí and G:uell
Part Two: Geniuses
7. Fleeing the Straight and Narrow. Gaudí and Reus
8. Modern Painting. Rusiñol at Sitges, Picasso
9. The Terminal Beach. Salvador Dalí
10. Feet rooted to the Red Earth. Joan Miró
11. Come from a Silence. Raimon
Part Three: Tourism and War
12. The Sweaty Groin. Barcelona's Raval
13. The Gothic Quarter. Barcelona
14. Mass Migration and Mass Tourism. Lloret
15. Plain and River. Lleida and the Ebro
16. The Anarchist Dream. George Orwell
17. The Landscape in the Pot
18. Cradle and Refuge. FC Barcelona
Posted December 8, 2009
I had just returned from a visit to Catalonia when I purchased this book. My visit was exhilerating and I wanted to learn more of the cultural and social history of the area. I didn't find many options that fit the bill (broad overview) but this seemed a likely choice. While it's not "bad," the author seems quite biased in his presentation and evaluation of the cultural history of Catalonia. Leftist orientation pervades his discussion of everything from Gaudi to the workers' unions. It's worth reading if you are looking for something with that bias. Otherwise, look for something else.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.