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Sunday, September 30, 2018

My first Spanish lit course

I know we read Machado.  I remember the poem "Daba el reloj las doce" and "En las ascuas de un crepúsculo morado." The instructor was named Robert Scari, and was from Argentina. We read Historia de una escalera, by Buero Vallejo, and Requiem por un campesino español. I think also El gesticulador, by Usigli.

The second class was more advanced, and was devoted to the modern Spanish novel.  The instructor was Reed Anderson. We read Unamuno, Niebla, El árbol de la ciencia, something by Fernández Santos whose title will come to me in a second, La cabeza del cordero, by Ayala.  The word "algarabía" appeared on the first page of Baroja's novel, and I had looked it up. The professor asked me what it meant and I was able to say.

This was 40 years ago.  I do not have an extraordinary memory, it is just that my education was cumulative, so that I related later things I read to this foundation.

The first book I bought in Spain was a copy of Miguel Hernández in bookstore in San Sebastián. I still have this book, an anthology of his love poetry edited by Leopolodo de Luis.  I don't know how I knew to buy it, but I figured it out somehow.  


Leslie B. said...

It was Spanish 5 at UCB and it was Winter, 1975. The TA was Angela Zawadski and she was Argentine. The books were chosen by the department, not her, but she was good at teaching them -- very good, in fact, got us to read but did not push too far. We had one test I remember, where we got a poem and had to find all the versification and rhetorical things in it, did it have metonymy, and so on, and we wrote a 5-page closely argued explicación de texto on another text. I don't remember other exams and I don't remember homework, and I don't remember what we said in class except that we were commenting on the texts and what they said. This was *not* the official introduction to literature, that was the next course.

This was the course that convinced me to go on in Spanish, though, put it before French. Many of my still-favorite works were taught in it and what I notice about it, trying to see what my students will like, is that it had readings from three genres and every period EXCEPT 18th and 19th centuries. This must have been deliberate -- those texts are too ponderous for Spanish 5. But we read things by:

- Anonymous (romancero, jarcha, etc.)
- easy-ish things by Lope, Herrera, Fray Luis, San Juan, Quevedo, Góngora
- a novela ejemplar by Cervantes
- El burlador de Sevilla
- Poetry by García Lorca
- Various cool Latin American short stories; not GM or Borges; I remember Cortázar and Carpentier

Every single thing was a gem.

Jonathan said...

I found your TA: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angela-zawadzki-37213411/?trk=public-profile-join-page

Leslie B. said...

My God, she actually finished! The last I talked to her, when I was in graduate school, she claimed to be dropping out, it having lost meaning for her, she said. She was very smart, and they had pissed her off. She's made a really good career, I see...