Friday, December 28, 2012

Let's kick off with a positive comment – on Spanish literature:- To an English-speaking audience, the 16th and 17th centuries are the era of Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson and co - the undisputed master dramatists of their age. Yet for power and sheer productivity, the Spanish Golden Age - the Siglo de Oro, 1580-1680 - is more than a match. Extant plays in Castilian outnumber, by many hundreds, all the work of the playwrights of Elizabethan and Stuart England put together.

Over in the UK, the Queen has had a memorably good year. Here in Spain, though, things couldn't be more different. A King who popularised himself by safeguarding democracy has dealt himself a couple of blows from which, say some, the monarchy may not recover. During straitened times at home, he was photographed shooting elephants in East Africa. In the company of a woman who wasn't his wife. Having then fallen down and been hospitalised, he was rumoured to be having relations with a young woman teacher of German. If that wasn't enough, his son-in-law is being investigated for corruption and has not appeared in any family fotos since early in the year. The ranks of republicans are not yet massed but, as everyone agrees 2013 will be even worse than 2012, I guess anything could happen.

By the way, Spanish speakers might like to know of a new satirical magazine called Mongolia. Its April issue was entitled:- The King could rape you: 100 things the King can do and you can’t.

Sticking with the bad news . . . A leading firm in the property field has forecast that prices in Spain's major cities will fall another 30% over the next 5 or 6 years. Things in the main coastal resort areas are forecast to be even worse, with the decline in prices dragging on for 10 to 15 years. Yet worse, there are parts of Spain in which empty properties will never sell and will have to be demolished. More here.

Bankia has featured here before. It's one of Spain's largest banks, fused (under government duress) from one large savings banks and 6 or 7 smaller ones. It's been a farce from the outset and has now been officially declared worse than worthless. Being valued as -€4.2 billion. I say farce but it's been a tragedy for 350,000 small investors who were inveigled by their bank managers into buying shares now worth nothing. One the company's Directors, by the way, has admitted that she was incapable of understanding the company accounts, despite earning a humongous salary of €374,000 in 2011. She is now a witness in the trial of various of her colleagues.

I've more than once expressed my amazement that Galicia – with a population of less than 3 million - somehow supports 13 or 14 daily newspapers. My fellow blogger, Trevor, up in Barcelona has sent me this article, revealing that – in a 'completely opaque' way – the Galician Xunta has dished out almost 800,000 of taxpayers' money to publishing companies. One wonders why. And how grateful the editors will prove.

Finally . . . An Iranian friend recently described her granddaughter as 'sheitan'. Or 'little devil'. The quick among you will have realised this is the word we get 'satan' from. Or so they say. It could be just a coincidence.


James Atkinson said...

Colin, Re the dramatists, what you say is indisputable of course, as far as it goes. But of course quantity alone is not the same as quality amongst writers.
Do you consider the standard of their output is comparable?
As a classical music aficionado, I am fond of Vivaldi, compared to whom Beethovens looks miniscule.Perhaps I have misunderstood you, what do you mean by power in the context of those Spanish dramatists and are many of them available in translation? Do they translate well do you think? Interestingly some germans think Shakespeare is just as good in german translations, as he is in english. I believe some crackpots over there still contend he was really german.

Colin said...

Hi, James. Not sure I'd agree with you about Vivaldi. By coincidence, I'll be mentioning the German love of Shakespeare tonight. Cheers.


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