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Journey to the Alcarria: Travels Through the Spanish Countryside (Traveler)

Journey to the Alcarria: Travels Through the Spanish Countryside (Traveler)
Author/Publisher: Camilo Jose Cela
Emphasis: Travel
List Price: $8.95

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Editorial Reviews

The American public is being introduced to Spain's leading modern writer with two books in translation this fall, illustrating - with fine examples- the two genres in which his reputation is secure over a period of twenty odd years. An extraordinarily powerful novel, The Family of Pascual Duarte is being published by Atlantic Monthly Press in September (see report p. 678). About two weeks later this exquisite travel book appears. It has a deceptive simplicity and can be read solely for the subtle style, the technical brilliance in a fine translation by Mrs. Lopez-Morillas. Few will read it for the tonic quality of the travels themselves, for this records a ten-day walking trip through the Alcarria, a mountainous rural area northeast of Spain, still primitive (back in 1946 when the trip was taken). But all sensitive readers will sense the in??itive understanding of the Spanish people encountered, whether vagabonds (as he himself appeared), travelling salesmen, peddlers, or people of the village-priests, women washing clothes, an idiot beggar boy, innkeepers, and friendly souls who gave him lodging and shared their food. The symbolism - reflecting as it does Spain's "tired body" and "divided soul"- comes through in the selection made of characters portrayed. But what really counts, for this reader anyhow, is the panorama of life and color and character, through vivid descriptions and minute anecdotes. (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Description
Awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize for Literature, Camilo José Cela has long been recognized as one of the preeminent Spanish writers of the twentieth century. Journey to the Alcarria is the best known of his vagabundajes, Cela’s term for his books of travels, sketchbooks of regions or provinces. The Alcarria is a territory in New Castile, northeast of Madrid, surrounding most of the Guadalajara province. The region is high, rocky, and dry, and is famous for its honey.

Cela himself is “the traveler,” an urban intellectual wandering from village to village, through farms and along country roads, in search of the Spanish character. Cela relishes his encounters with the simple, honest people of the Spanish countryside—the blushing maid in the tavern, the small-town shopkeeper with airs of grandeur lonely for companionship, the old peasant with his donkey who freely shares his bread and blanket with the stranger. These vignettes are narrated in a fresh, clear prose that is wonderfully evocative. As the New York Times wrote, Cela is “an outspoken observer of human life who built his reputation on portray­ing what he observed in a direct colloquial style.”


Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (January 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871133792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871133793
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review:

    4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars - A simple account of rustic Spanish country in the 1940s
The Alcarria is a mountainous region northeast of Madrid. In 1946, Cela (who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1989) toured the Alcarria, mostly by foot. JOURNEY TO THE ALCARRIA is Cela's account of that tour. It has the virtue of being short (139 pages). The Alcarria turns out to be rustic and simple, as is Cela's account (giving rise to a variant on the chicken-and-egg conundrum). According to the somewhat academic introduction to this edition, by Cela's standards a travel-writer "must react with genuine and simple surprise to what he sees, and jot it down without inventive alteration." Well, Cela followed that formula to a T. There is a sort of rustic charm to the book, but in truth it quickly becomes boring. I don't understand why it is celebrated (to refer to the introduction once again, JOURNEY TO THE ALCARRIA is the "crowning point" of Cela's travel sketches). Nor do I understand, if indeed JOURNEY TO THE ALCARRIA is near the apex of his literary output, why Cela merited a Novel Prize.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars - How a true human being travelled through Spain
Light and airy in style, filled with memorable scenes and characters, an engaging narrator, and plenty of information about daily life in backroads Spain 50 years ago. I see why this author deserved a Nobel prize. However, skip the introduction, a heavy handed piece of academic existentialist skulduggery that almost persuaded me not to read the book.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars - An easy trip through the countryside
I needed a short, easy book to read while on my vacation with my sister. She happened to have this book along and lent it to me. I found myself travelling through the countryside of Spain with Camilo Cela and loving it. He included just enough information to let us share his experience without drowning us in too much detail. I'll never have his exact memories but I felt like I could recognize the places and feelings if I ever get to go there. I recommend this as an enjoyable, easy read.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars - A Good book, but not his best one
Here We found a good book, but there are a lot of books by C. Jose Cela better than this one. This one brings the reader to a different Spain, and offers the opportunity of getting deeper in arural world. Anyway, surely his best book it's called La Colmena, not yet published in English, in which He describes the dark moments of the 50's in Spain, from a cultural and a post civil war point of view. I would recommend Journey to the Alcarria, but there are better ones.


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