Spain, a Portrait After the General

Robert Elms, Author Heinemann Educational Books $0 (252p) ISBN 978-0-434-22824-9
A young Englishman who fell in love with Spain as a teenager, Elms provides an engaging, if somewhat dated and idiosyncratic, survey of Spain, from nightlife to sherry-making to television game shows. He begins and ends in Barcelona, detailing the newcomer's travails of getting an apartment and hiring a maid. But he soon explores Spain's character: the opposing attitudes toward sex--apparent liberalism but ingrained moral propriety--mirrors the country's capacity to tolerate, even celebrate contradictions. The few people Elms interviews are interesting: journalist Juan Luis Cebrian, who built the independent newspaper El Pais , suggests that Spain's experience with the dictator Franco has made it the least chauvinistic country in Europe. Elms's eye is sharp: Madrid is ``a kind of sixteenth-century Iberian Brasilia''; flamenco classes, with their recent wave of popularity, are a ``Spanish equivalent of aerobics sessions''; and a bullfight symbolizes ``the relentless everyday battle with the sun and the soil.'' The book, which has a distinctly British sensibility, was first published in England, where Elms hosts a television travel series. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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