Madrid

 

Literary Tourist's Top Eight Literary Things to do in Madrid

 Check out the Literary Tourist listings map of Madrid here.

Madrid Quotes

To go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer. For a long time your friends will be a little uncomfortable about it. Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night. Appointments with a friend are habitually made for after midnight at the cafe.― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Itinerary: Literary Tourist Day in Madrid

Flew into Madrid today. Gotta love an airport that has one of these out front of it

Parked ourselves at the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid, Paseo de las Delicias, 26. A good choice. We were able to walk to it from the train station in under ten minutes. It's right downtown, a similar ten minute stroll to the Prado, where, across the street you'll find loads of good tapas restaurants. Not far off there's 1). Cervantes's

burial place marked by this plaque, and around the corner from it, 2). a museum in the house

where author Lope de Vega lived.

Making our way past the train station toward the Prado we came to the bottom of 3). Calle de Claudio Moyano, off Paseo del Prado (one of the most beautiful streets in Madrid).

It's lined with vending stalls, all of which sell books - albeit not that aggressively:

Lots to look at here. Spaniards are evidently

great

readers, and

writers. So, lots of books on hand.

Had a nice chat with the owner of Librería Javier Fernández

(stall 28). Asked him to name some of his favourite Spanish book designers. One  was Manolo Prieto

These items were priced at $3-4 each.  Something good and cheap to look for as you

hit

some of the

many

stores in town. In front of the Prado you'll see this statue of a boy and a fish which,

if you ask me, looks a whole lot like William Pickering's publishing imprint/logo. Further up the street you'll encounter 5). the National

Library.

Close by there's an Irish 6). pub - James Joyce -

where author readings, in English and Spanish, regularly take place; book clubs meet here too. 7). Across town at Campomanes 13 there's Petra's International Bookshop. Mostly English titles here - paperbacks and reading copies.  There's an interesting Spanish Antiquarian

seller a few

doors down. Work your way back to the hotel and you'll come across 8). the Sophia Riena museum.

It features interesting exhibits and talks, often book-related. We were lucky. At the time of our visit there was a Blake

exhibit on: one of history's great all-round book men. After this, it's time for those

tapas. Chased by a serving of churros

with hot chocolate. Followed by bed.

For more information, check out the Literary Tourist listings map for Madrid here.

 List of notable writers from Madrid:

  • Francisco de Figueroa- Born in 1530, known for his sonnets. A friend of  Cervantes. He appears as a character in the latters' La Galatea.
  • Alonso de Ercilla- A Spanish nobleman and poet. One of his most popular  poems is La Araucana.
  • Miguel de Cervantes- Author of one of the world's greatest literary masterpieces, Don Quixote, a novel deeply integrained in the Spanish culture and language. Other works include La fuerza de la sange and Novela del casamiento engañoso.
  • Lope de Vega- Known for his contribution to the Spanish language, one of his nicknames was "monster of nature" due to the sheer number of plays he wrote, almost 2,000!
  • Ramón de la Cruz- Neoclassical dramatist celebrated for his comical operas, the best known of which is Las Tertulias de Madrid.
  • Francisco de Quevedo- A golden age writer, friends with Luis de Góngora. He had his own style - called conceptismo - in contrast to Gongora's culteranismo. Work includes Los Sueños, a satire which features dreams and visions.
  • Tirso de Molina- Priest and revered, popular poet, ordained in 1600.  Notable works include Comedias escogidas and Estudios de critica literaria.
  • Juan Benet- Born in Madrid in 1927 he published many works, including La inspiración y el estilo and Volverás a región.
  • Luis Antonio de Villena-  a multi-award winning contemporary poet.

Pío Baroja, Miguel de Cervantes, and much later on, Ernest Hemingway, all spent time in a part of Madrid called the Muses (or the Parnassus or "Enlightened Madrid"). Close to Plaza Santa Ana and Calle Huertas the area today is filled with bars, taverns and restaurants. At night the place gets very lively. The Hotel Reina Victoria, on the left hand side of the Plaza, is popular with bullfighters. The Church of San Sebastián, located opposite the hotel, is mentioned in many novels and poems,  Perez Galdos's 'Misericordia' for example. The popular romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer got married in it and the death certificates of Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Ruiz de Alarcón are all kept on site. Next to the Teatro Español you'll find  the Cervecería Alemana,  a popular old-fashioned café bar. In the nearby Calle Echegaray another popular bar, Los Gabrieles, has rooms decorated in colorful ceramic tiles, one of which features Velázquez's painting "Los borrachos" .

Cervantes spent his last years in a house near the corner of Calle Cervantes and Calle León Cross (demolished in the 19th century). Here he wrote the second part of Don Quixote. He died in 1616, and was buried in the Trinitarias Convent which is open to the public on special occasions, however, there is [see photo above] a big mural sculpture on the outside wall that marks the spot.

Other writers from  Spain's "Golden Age" who lived in this area include Góngora, Quevedo and Lope de Vega, whose nearby home has, as mentioned, been turned into a museum.

Below the Calle Cervantes you'll find Calle Quevedo where Góngora rented a house. When Quevedo bought it, Góngora promptly moved out; apparently the two hated each other.  In Calle del Prado you 'll  come across the Ateneo de Madrid, a centre for cultural activities built in 1835 by  'liberal intellectuals', including Pío Baroja.  It contains a library and holds popular exhibitions and performances.

Finally, at 3 Calle de Santa Isabel you'll find the Filmoteca (or Cine Dore). It shows foreign movies, old and new, directed by the likes of  Kurosawa, Bergman, and Wilder. There's also an interesting bookshop and café bar on the premises.

 Here's a great article on literary Madrid from Ploughshares magazine

What to read

Don Quixote Migeul de Cervantes

The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Five Hours with Mario Miguel Delibes

Soldiers of Salamis Javier Cercas

The Blind Sunflowers Alberto Mendez

Exiled from almost Everywhere Juan Goytisolo 

Sefarad Antonio Munoz Mulina 

 


Address: Madrid, , ES
Author(s): Ernest Hemingway, Pío Baroja, Miguel de Cervantes,

 

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