Privately published in 1861, James Johnston Pettigrew's Notes on Spain and the Spaniards, in the Summer of 1859, with a Glance at Sardinia is a rare lost artifact of intellectual life in the Old South written by an adventurous spirit well versed in European history, architecture, and literature. This Southern Classics edition makes the volume available publically for the first time and is enhanced with a new introduction by Southern historian and Pettigrew's biographer, Clyde N. Wilson.
Pettigrew's travelogue records his experiences and impressions as an educated Southerner eager to immerse himself in Iberian and Mediterranean culture. He describes interactions with Spaniards, including the manners of men and attractiveness of women; shows keen understanding of Islamic contributions to Spanish history; and expresses his sympathy for the plights of peasant societies. In addition Pettigrew recounts his awe at monuments and cathedrals, demonstrates his knowledge of regional politics, and shows his republican zeal in joining efforts to liberate Italy from the yoke of Austria. Candidly broaching historical, aesthetic, political, and religious topics, Pettigrew offers an insightful exploration of Spanish culture on many fronts. Moreover his writing exemplifies the well-developed social philosophy of the antebellum South, demonstrates that Southern intellectuals of the time were deeply interested in topics beyond their regional concerns. Notes on Spain hints at the literary promise of a representative casualty of the Civil War.