Wednesday, 24 August 2016

South from Granada

South from Granada
I had never read the classic: 'South from Granda' by Gerald Brenan until now.  Brenan settled in a small village on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains overlooking the Mediterranean above Almeria after WWI. My Kindle edition has a 21 st century introduction by Chris Stewart, who himself lives in a similar village now and wrote about his experience in his excellent  'Driving Over Lemons'. Brenan's observations of village life, customs and beliefs are punctuated by his accounts of visits from various members of the Bloomsbury Group, hilariously disastrous in the case of Lytton Strachey; more successful in the case of Leonard and Virginia Woolf.
I am alternating 'South from Granda' with 'Eastern Approaches' by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, a more logical follow-up to 'Persia and the Great Game'. Fitzroy was having supper in our kitchen one evening with my stepson and an Iranian friend from school, when my stepson's friend suddenly exclaimed in a perfectly friendly manner that he realised that Fitzroy had kidnapped his uncle at pistol point at some point in their (Fitzroy and the uncle's) careers.
I wanted to read Russian with Spanish at university, but it turned out at that time that one could only read either language with another such as French, not as a pair.  This was disappointing.  I saw Spain and Russia as having quite a few general similarities: both, for example, having been invaded by Islamic powers at one time, and being both situated geographically on the fringes of Europe.

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