Spanish Literature: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199208050

Jo Labayni
160 Pages
114 x 175 mm
Pub date
Aug 2010
Very Short Introductions


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  • Examines how Spanish literature has been read, in and outside Spain, explaining misconceptions, outlining insights of recent scholarship, and suggesting new readings
  • Covers a wide range of Spanish writers and works
  • Devotes attention to issues of gender and sexuality as love is often an important literary topic
  • Explores questions of cultural patrimony in relation to the Spanish Republic's cultural programme and current heritage initiatives
  • Suggestions for further reading in English are also provided

Spanish literature has given the world the figures of Don Quixote and Don Juan, and is responsible for the 'invention' of the novel in the 16th century. The medieval period produced literature in Castilian, Catalan, Galician, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew, and today there is a flourishing literature in Catalan, Galician, and Basque as well as in Castilian-the language that has became known as 'Spanish'. A multilayered history of exile has produced a transnational literary production, while writers in Spain have engaged with European cultural trends. 
This Very Short Introduction explores this rich literary history, which resonates with contemporary debates on transnationalism and cultural diversity. The book introduces a general readership to the ways in which Spanish literature has been read, in and outside Spain, explaining misconceptions, outlining the insights of recent scholarship and suggesting new readings. It highlights the precocious modernity of much early modern Spanish literature, and shows how the gap between modern ideas and social reality stimulated creative literary responses in subsequent periods; as well as how contemporary writers have adjusted to Spain's recent accelerated modernization.


1: Multilingualism and porous boundaries
2: Spanish literature and modernity
3: Gender and sexuality
4: Cultural patrimony
Further reading

About the author: 

Jo Labanyi is Professor of Spanish and Director of the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University, having previously held chairs at the University of London (where she directed the Institute of Romance Studies from 1997-2002) and University of Southampton. She is founding editor of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies. Her research interests are in 19th- and 20th-century Spanish cultural history, including literature, film, visual culture, popular culture, gender, and memory. In 2005 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.

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