Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stanley Payne and Spain’s Unique Story

The last couple of weeks have been full of completely unimportant but time-consuming duties, so I’ve been neglecting Towers of Avila. But during this time, I did start a bit of reading that I thought might be of interest.

At Barajas Airport, on my return trip from Spain last December, I bought a copy of a truly excellent history of Spain, España - Una Historia Única, by Stanley Payne, the well known American historian of Spain. In Spanish, a person like this is called an hispanista, that is, a scholar of things Spanish.

Espana - Una Historia Unica

Stanley Payne is probably the most objective of the historians writing on Spain today. Most other English- language hispanistas feel the urge to begin their work by swearing allegiance to Abraham Lincoln Brigade (that group of sadly misled and exploited Communist sympathizers drawn from 1930’s left-wing American intellectuals and unionists). Payne, however, is interested in the actual history of how things came to be and why. Hugh Thomas is also good and strives for objectivity.

I’ve just started España - Una Historia Única , which of course was originally written in English. I like to read things in translation just to see how well other translators do their job! It seems like an excellent book, and it starts with a very interesting chapter on Payne’s development as an hispanista.