2011/09/02

Great Hispanic Novels

Thanks to Larry Dignan for sharing this link. Since Facebook and Acción en Venezuela friend Jess Brodnax once asked me if there was such a list, I imagine that other visitors to this blog might also be interested:

50 Great Hispanic Novels Every Student Should Read | Online College Courses

Maybe I should try to get through all these books myself. I'll say just a word about the few that I have read.
  1. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quijote de la Mancha, ed. J.A. Franch, vol. 1981 (Barcelona: Bruguera, 1605). Actually, I've read only the first, original volume, and it had me rolling on the floor laughing, as we say. An odd thing about this edition is that its footnotes explain many archaic expressions that for me weren't archaic at all — some expressions that have long gone out of use in Spain are still heard commonly in Puerto Rico and other places. I hear that there are good translations available but if you really want to get all the jokes, you should do as Sigmund Freud did and take the trouble to learn Spanish. Cervantes wrote the second volume, a sequel, to protect himself after other authors started coming out with books about the character he had invented. I should read that, too — but I think that first I'll want to re-read Vol. I. It is really funny, and very sharply observed.
  2. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, La sombra del viento (Barcelona: Planeta, 2002). I thought this was awful. You can read my review here.
  3. Miguel Delibes, Los santos inocentes. Well, I didn't read the book, but I saw the movie in which Delibes collaborated. You can see my reviews of a couple of other novels by Delibes, El camino and La hoja roja, here.
  4. Ildefonso Falcones, La catedral del mar. I started this, but it was just too ridiculous to continue. When I got to the part about ius primae noctis suffered by Falcones' simple caricatures, I felt like Oscar Wilde on reading Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shoppe: 'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter.' But the book is on my shelves, and I may try again. Not out of literary interest, but just as a way to learn something about cathedral construction. 
  5. Javier Cercas, Soldados de Salamina (Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 2001). This is terrific. See my review here. I've become a fan of Cercas, especially his novel-journalism in  Anatomía de un instante (Barcelona: Mondadori, 2009). I wrote about that book on my Spanish-language blog Lecturas y lectores back in 13 noviembre 2009.
  6. Antonio Muñoz Molina — I don't recognize the title listed here; what was it in Spanish? I don't think it was one of these, but I have read and reviewed two of his novels, El jinete polaco (which I loved) and Plenilunio, which is lighter but engaging. (Links are to my reviews.)
  7. Quevedo, El buscón. I somehow got distracted before finishing it. The sharp, scabrous wit can be startling, even shocking. I'll go back and finish it one day soon and post a review.
  8. Carmen Laforet, Nada (Madrid: El País, 1944). Wonderfully complex, closely observed story of post-war (Spanish civil war, 1936-39) Barcelona. Far superior to Ruiz Zafón's spooky comedy in supposedly the same setting. My review is here.
That's enough for today. I'll take a look at the other parts of the list, Spanish-language novels from countries other than Spain, some other day. 

    2 comments:

    Dirk van Nouhuys said...

    I read Muños Molinas Sefarad in traslation and thought it was terrific.

    gef said...

    I'll get to it. Yesterday I started reading Henry Kamen, The Disinherited, about Spain's loss and the world's gain from all the population expulsions, beginning in 1492. The first long chapter is about the Sepharad.