Manuel Lucena Giraldo – Why Spain?

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Manuel Lucena Giraldo – Associate Professor of Humanities. IE University.

Reading:

Why Spain? by John H. Elliott from book History in the Making, 2012.

I became a historian of Spain largely by accident. In the summer of 1950, near the end of my first year reading history in Cambridge University, I saw a notice in Varsity, the undergraduate newspaper, saying that a few places remained for an expedition round the Iberian peninsula in an old army truck. With no plans in mind for the summer vacation I decided to sign on, and for six weeks in the heat of July and August we drove round Spain and Portugal, staying in cheap boarding houses or spending the night camping out in olive groves[…]. Those six weeks represented my first exposure to Spain, and they made a deep impression. The country, only just beginning to take first steps on the road to recovery in the aftermath of Civil War, was miserably poor […] Yet, amidst all the misery and the poverty there was also enormous dignity – the dignity of proud people who were passing through hard times but knew their own worth. I was impressed, too, by the countryside, the open expanses of the great central plain of Castile, lying parched and yellow beneath the burning summer sun. Not surprisingly, I returned to Cambridge an enthusiast for the country, although at that stage with no thought of becoming a professional historian.

 

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