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Pagan Spain Paperback – May 6, 2002

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 6, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A new edition that records Wright’s encounter with Franco, Iberia, and colonialism

About the Author

Richard Wright won international renown for his powerful and visceral depiction of the black experience. He stands today alongside such African-American luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and two of his novels, Native Son and Black Boy, are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. He died in 1960. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (May 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578064279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578064274
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,447,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book had, says the introduction, been out of print for many years before being briefly republished several years ago. If anyone is able to purchase or obtain this work, they will find it an insightful view into a Spain still largely unknown by and officially protected from America and much of Europe. It was written in the mid-fifties after Wright had taken three journeys to that country. His argument is that Spain is still pagan: a primitive land untouched by the outside world for better or worse. On one hand, the Spanish practice an almost superstitious, certainly paternalist Catholicism which straightjackets women and suspects the few Spaniards daring to practice Protestantism. More positively, Wright finds, Spaniards have no race consciousness derived from outside sources. Wright notes that though obviously of African background, he was not discriminated against in terms of accomodation, dining, or socializing. He talks with a variety of Spaniards. Many question the Franco regime; are anticlerical and sceptical of Spanish values and history. Wright's descriptions of the often intimidating landscape, of bullfights and the celebration of Holy Week in Seville, are excellent. He maintains a basic criticism of the domination of the Church throughout.This brought adverse reaction when the work originally appeared, during an ultra-conservative era when religion was considered a bastion against communism. Wright 's sympathies for Spanish women, be they housewives, prospective brides or prostitutes, is farseeing. He understands the stereotypes women are subject to, especially in such a traditional society.Wright, an ex-communist, still had nostalgic feelings for the fledgling Spanish Republic. The Civil War is a subject only mentioned in confidence to him, so then recent was that struggle. For anyone wishing a broad-minded, well-written portrayal of a country that has fascinated many writers, "Pagan Spain" would be very worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Wright's account is powerful, thoughtful, well-observed, and intelligent, as always. But I have the sense from some of the other comments in here (presumably by readers who have not been to post-Franco Spain) that it's being read by some as an account of some kind of "eternal," unchanging Spanish essence. Please bear in mind that Wright visited at a time when Spanish per capita income was still lower (as late as 1957) than it had been in 1936, when the war broke out, and the conditions he observed reflected that post-war (anomalous) impoverishment AND the oppressions of a traditionalist authoritarian regime that was trying, and eventually failed, to turn back the clock. It was not a representative regime nor was 1957 a representative moment in Spanish history (even under Franco Wright would've found a very different Spain in 1970, for instance, after 10 years of an economic boom); Franco had had to fight a war (unlike Hitler or Mussolini) to take power, a war he might not have won had it not been for massive outside support (from Germany and Italy). And unlike post-war Britain, Germany, France, or Italy, Spain was given no Marshall Aid money to rebuild: it had to pick itself up on its own. The post-war Franco Spain Wright visited was not only a fundamentally different world from Spain today (where gay marriage and adoption is legal and half the cabinet--including the defense minister--is made up by women), the more important point to make is that it was a fundamentally different world from the Spain that had existed before (the whole liberal period from 1833 through the second republic of 1931-1936). Bear in mind that women's suffrage was granted in 1931 and that divorce had been legalized!Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Spain fascinates me for some of the same reasons that intrigued Richard Wright when he wrote this book a few years before his untimely death. Wright ascertains that Spain is a contradiction,a holy nation that does ungodly acts, a superpower from the past trying to find its way in the modern world. Wright's main issue is exploring religion, namely Roman Catholism but along the way divulges his insights into a society plagued by it's past and present which at the time(1954)was still under Franco's influence. One of the more interesting aspects of this book is his discovery of a little book all young women must read and memorize. It turns out to be a sort of indoctrination to being "Spanish." Take an excerpt from Chapter 1, "Spain is a historical unit with a specific role to play in the world." This role is tied to religion and the conversion of all, by any means neccessary as exemplified with the conquest of the Americas; the gold and riches were just a by product of the divine nature of the conquest, a sort of earthly reward. Further on in the book destiny is defined as "all men in a common movement for salvation." In essence the belief is that Spain although no longer a superpower will be fundamental in the salvation of the world.Wright reads chapters of the book throughout his travels and shares them with the reader. Some of the Falangist concepts about Imperial Spain and how it pertains to the current state of affairs is amazing in it's ethnocentrism. The ideas from the Falangist book are worth reading this book for alone. Along his travels Wright sees the contradictions everywhere, racism, sexism and exploitation of women is rampant but sex sells, for it's price. So much for the high morality.Read more ›
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