domingo, 15 de enero de 2017

El laberinto español de Gerald Brenan por Lola Ortega Muñoz

El laberinto español, originalmente, The Spanish Labyrinth: an account of the social and political background of the Spanish Civil War es un ensayo sobre el contexto histórico, político, social y económico previo a la guerra civil española de reconocimiento internacional.


El laberinto español está dividido en tres partes que se subdividen en distintos capítulos. La primera trata el periodo entre 1874 y 1931, desde la Restauración hasta la Dictadura de Primo de Rivera. En la segunda parte, que es la más extensa, se ocupa de la situación de la clase trabajadora en las distintas regiones españolas y  de los grupos políticos que la defendían. El apartado final trata de la República hasta el estallido de la Guerra Civil.

Brenan desarrolla un estilo propio donde es el escritor en primera persona el que se dirige al lector: «Hablaré primeramente del aspecto más visible»; relata sus investigaciones, anécdotas y experiencias personales de forma amena. Brenan formula preguntas  y contesta las posibles respuestas, interpela, hace comparaciones, llega a conclusiones y combina el tiempo presente de la narración con el pasado y el futuro.

El Laberinto no se ciñe a la forma tradicional del relato histórico al manifestar el autor su apoyo a la República, criticar  abiertamente a la Iglesia,  y presentar el anarquismo como un movimiento idealista. Además, se recrea  en otros aspectos como  la forja de un carácter español, regiones con sus características humanas,clima y accidentes geográficos. Estos aspectos son considerados heterodoxos por la crítica histórica especializada.

El libro se prohibió en España y muchos españoles tuvieron que comprarlo clandestinamente. Brenan se convirtió en un elemento de culto por representar la libertad de pensamiento. Muchos jóvenes españoles asumían el desafío de adquirir una obra proscrita como relata Amancio Prada:

 «Oí hablar por primera vez de Gerald Brenan en 1968, a Enrique Barón, que entonces era profesor de economía en la Escuela de la Dirección de Empresas Agrarias, en Valladolid, donde yo estudiaba. Unos días antes de salir para París, para ampliar estudios en La Sorbona, me recomendó que comprara allí, editado por Ruedo Ibérico (París, 1962), uno de los mejores libros escritos sobre la Guerra Civil española. El Laberinto Español de Gerald Brenan. Recuerdo que cuando volví a España de vacaciones en el verano siguiente, en la frontera de Irún, la policía me quitó aquel libro».


El laberinto español ha sido subversivo en muchos aspectos y ha dado paso a una nueva saga de historiadores anglosajones que han seguido las huellas del hispanista: Raymond Carr, Gabriel Jackson, Hugh Thomas, Paul Preston, etc.

La edición de 1993 con prólogo de Raymond Carr: «una revelación para mi generación» añade: «lo que es destacable sobre el relato de Brenan es la limpieza que le ha permitido superar la prueba del tiempo [...]» . Gabriel Jackson reconoce el uso académico de esta obra:

«Durante veinticinco años utilicé El laberinto en mis clases universitarias y siempre recomendé a mis estudiantes que leyeran las notas a pie de página para poder apreciar la profundidad del pensamiento de Brenan, y les alerté también para que tuviesen en cuenta el elemento romántico, casi anarquista, del mismo. Pero debido al hecho de que habían leído mucha menos historia que su profesor, quería darle a entender que El laberinto tiene el valor excepcional de entretener con un relato histórico, una interpretación coherente y personal».

Hugh Thomas, en el prólogo de la edición de 1976, añade una anécdota de su visita a España en el invierno de 1955-1956: «Fui a España de vacaciones, leyendo El laberinto español, de Gerald Brenan, un libro brillante que para muchos ingleses ha servido de iniciación a la historia de la España moderna».

La obra ha sido fuente para investigadores que han continuado la labor iniciada por Brenan y tiene reflexiones que vislumbran a día de hoy, tensiones que en la España del siglo XXI todavía sufrimos:    « […] el principal problema político ha sido siempre el alcanzar un equilibrio entre un gobierno central eficaz y los imperativos de la autonomía local. Si en el centro se ejerce una fuerza excesiva, las provincias se sublevan y proclaman su independencia; si esa fuerza es insuficiente, se retiran sobre sí mismas y practican una resistencia pasiva».

  1.  Díaz López, J.A. (1987). Gerald Brenan hispanista angloandaluz. Granada: Editorial BLN.
  2.  Brenan, G. (1978). El laberinto español. Barcelona: Ibérica de Ediciones y Publicaciones.
  3.  Prada, A. (1985). Gerald Brenan,. En J.M. Amado &  L. Saval (Eds), Al sur del laberinto (pp. 143-146). Málaga: Litoral.
  4.  Brenan, G. (1993). The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Foreword.
  5.  Jackson, G. (1985). Homenaje a Gerald Brenan. En J.M. Amado &  L. Saval (Eds), Al sur del laberinto (pp.133-137). Málaga: Litoral.
  6.  Brenan, G. (1976). The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  Foreword.
  7.  Brenan, G. (1990). The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge: Canto, x.

"The Spanish Labyrinth" of Gerald Brenan by Lola Ortega Muñoz

The Spanish Labyrinth (1943), originally, The Spanish Labyrinth: an account of the social and political background of the Spanish Civil War is an essay on the historical, political, social and economic context before the Spanish civil war of international recognition.




The Spanish Labyrinth is divided into three parts that are subdivided into different chapters. The first one deals with the period between 1874 and 1931, from the Restoration to the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. In the second part, which is the largest, it deals with the situation of the working class in the different Spanish regions and of the political groups that defended it.The final section deals with the Republic until the outbreak of the Civil War.

The book does not conform to the traditional form of historical narrative when the author manifests his support for the Republic, openly criticizes the Spanish Church, and presents anarchism as an idealistic movement. In addition, it is recreated in other aspects such as the forging of a Spanish character, regions with their human characteristics, climate and geographical features. These aspects are considered heterodox by specialized historical criticism [1].

Brenan develops a style of his own where the writer in the first person is addressed to the reader: "I will speak first of the most visible aspect" [2]. He relates his investigations, anecdotes and personal experiences in a pleasant way. Brenan asks questions and answers possible answers, interpellates, makes comparisons, draws conclusions and combines the present tense of the narrative with the past and the future.

Brenan became an element of worship for representing freedom of thought. The Spanish Labyrinth was banned in Spain, and many Spaniards had to buy it clandestinely. They assumed the challenge of acquiring a proscribed work as Amancio Prada relates:  "I first heard of Gerald Brenan in 1968, Enrique Baron, who was then professor of Economics at the School of Agrarian Business Management in Valladolid, where I was studying. A few days before leaving for Paris, to expand studies at the Sorbonne, Baron recommended that I should buy there, edited by Ruedo Ibérico in Paris (1962), one of the best books written on the Spanish Civil War, The Spanish Labyrinth by Gerald Brenan. I remember that when I returned to Spain on vacation the following summer, on the border of Irún, the police took that book from me."[3]


The Spanish Labyrinth has been subversive in many respects and has given way to a new saga of Anglo-Saxon historians who have followed in the footsteps of the Hispanist: Raymond Carr, Gabriel Jackson, Hugh Thomas, Paul Preston, etc.

In the 1993 edition with a prologue by Raymond Carr : "A revelation for my generation." He adds: "What is remarkable about Brenan's story is the cleansing that has allowed him to overcome the test of time."[4] 

Gabriel Jackson recognizes the academic use of this work: "For twenty-five years I have used The Labyrinth in my university classes and have always recommended to my students that they read the footnotes in order to appreciate the depth of Brenan's thought, and I also warned them to take into account the romantic element, almost anarchist, of the same. But due to the fact that they had read much less history than their teacher, I wanted to imply that The Labyrinth has the exceptional value of entertaining with a historical account, a coherent and personal interpretation. "[5]

Hugh Thomas, in the foreword to the 1976 edition, adds an anecdote from his visit to Spain in the winter of 1955-1956: "I went to Spain on vacation, reading The Spanish Labyrinth, a brilliant book that for many English has served as an initiation into the history of modern Spain. "[6]

The work has been a source for researchers who have continued the work begun by Brenan and has reflections that we see today, tensions that in Spain of the XXI century we still suffer: "... the main political problem has therefore always been how to strike a balance between an effective central government and the needs of local autonomy. If too much force  is applied at the center, the provinces revolt and proclaim their independence: if too little, they withdraw into themselves and practice passive resistance. At the best of times Spain is a difficult country to govern."[7]



  1.  Díaz López, J.A. (1987). Gerald Brenan hispanista angloandaluz. Granada: Editorial BLN.
  2.  Brenan, G. (1978). El laberinto español. Barcelona: Ibérica de Ediciones y Publicaciones.
  3.  Prada, A. (1985). Gerald Brenan,. En J.M. Amado &  L. Saval (Eds), Al sur del laberinto (pp. 143-146). Málaga: Litoral.
  4.  Brenan, G. (1993). The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Foreword.
  5.  Jackson, G. (1985). Homenaje a Gerald Brenan. En J.M. Amado &  L. Saval (Eds), Al sur del laberinto (pp. 133-137). Málaga: Litoral.
  6.  Brenan, G. (1976). The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  Foreword.
  7.  Brenan, G. (1990). The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge: Canto, X.

"The Spanish Labyrinth" by Lola Ortega Muñoz (Spain)

The Spanish Labyrinth, originally, The Spanish Labyrinth: an account of the social and political background of the Spanish Civil War is an essay on the historical, political, social and economic context before the Spanish civil war of international recognition.


The Spanish Labyrinth is divided into three parts that are subdivided into different chapters. The first one deals with the period between 1874 and 1931, from the Restoration to the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. In the second part, which is the largest, it deals with the situation of the working class in the different Spanish regions and of the political groups that defended it.The final section deals with the Republic until the outbreak of the Civil War.

The book does not conform to the traditional form of historical narrative when the author manifests his support for the Republic, openly criticizes the Church, and presents anarchism as an idealistic movement. In addition, it is recreated in other aspects such as the forging of a Spanish character, regions with their human characteristics, climate and geographical features. These aspects are considered heterodox by specialized historical criticism [1].

Brenan develops a style of his own where the writer in the first person is addressed to the reader: "I will speak first of the most visible aspect" [2]. He relates his investigations, anecdotes and personal experiences in a pleasant way. Brenan asks questions and answers possible answers, interpellates, makes comparisons, draws conclusions and combines the present tense of the narrative with the past and the future.

Brenan became an element of worship for representing freedom of thought. The Spanish Labyrinth was banned in Spain, and many Spaniards had to buy it clandestinely. They assumed the challenge of acquiring a proscribed work as Amancio Prada relates:
 "I first heard of Gerald Brenan in 1968, Enrique Baron, who was then professor of Economics at the School of Agrarian Business Management in Valladolid, where I was studying. A few days before leaving for Paris, to expand studies at the Sorbonne, Baron recommended that I buy there, edited by Ruedo Ibérico in Paris (1962), one of the best books written on the Spanish Civil War, The Spanish Labyrinth by Gerald Brenan. I remember that when I returned to Spain on vacation the following summer, on the border of Irún, the police took that book from me."[3]


The Spanish labyrinth has been subversive in many respects and has given way to a new saga of Anglo-Saxon historians who have followed in the footsteps of the Hispanist: Raymond Carr, Gabriel Jackson, Hugh Thomas, Paul Preston, etc.

In the 1993 edition with a prologue by Raymond Carr : "A revelation for my generation." He adds: "What is remarkable about Brenan's story is the cleansing that has allowed him to overcome the test of time."[4] 

Gabriel Jackson recognizes the academic use of this work :
 "For twenty-five years I have used The Labyrinth in my university classes and have always recommended to my students that they read the footnotes in order to appreciate the depth of Brenan's thought, and I also warned them to take into account the romantic element, almost anarchist, of the same. But due to the fact that they had read much less history than their teacher, I wanted to imply that  The Labyrinth has the exceptional value of entertaining with a historical account, a coherent and personal interpretation. "[5]

Hugh Thomas, in the foreword to the 1976 edition, adds an anecdote from his visit to Spain in the winter of 1955-1956: "I went to Spain on vacation, reading The Spanish Labyrinth, a brilliant book that for many English has served as an initiation into the history of modern Spain. "[6]

The work has been a source for researchers who have continued the work begun by Brenan and has reflections that we see today, tensions that in Spain of the XXI century we still suffer: "... the main political problem has therefore always been how to strike a balance between an effective central government and the needs of local autonomy. If too much force  is applied at the center, the provinces revolt and proclaim their independence: if too little, they withdraw into themselves and practice passive resistance. At the best of times Spain is a difficult country to govern"[7]


  1.  Díaz López, J.A. (1987). Gerald Brenan hispanista angloandaluz. Granada: Editorial BLN, 42.
  2.  Brenan, G. (1978). El laberinto español. Barcelona: Ibérica de Ediciones y Publicaciones, 42.
  3.  Prada, A. (1985). «Gerald Brenan», en: Al sur del laberinto. Málaga: Litoral, 143.
  4.  Brenan, G. (1993). The Spanish labyrinth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Foreword.
  5.  Jackson, G. (1985). «Homenaje a Gerald Brenan», en: Al sur del laberinto. Málaga: Litoral, 136.
  6.  Brenan, G. (1976). The Spanish labyrinth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  Foreword.
  7.  Brenan, G. (1990). The Spanish labyrinth. Cambridge: Canto, x.

viernes, 6 de enero de 2017

6 TH JANUARY, DAY OF THREE WISE MEN OR MAGI IN SPAIN: "EL ROSCÓN"



The Three Wise Men or Magicians Kings (Magi: Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar), who came from the East with gifts appear in the Holy Scriptures, Gospel of St. Matthew, (Matt. 2:1). They followed a star and found the new King (Jesus) and offered him three presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn child in Bethlehem (Belén).

On the 5th of January in Spain, in the afternoon, it is traditional the Cavalcade of the Three Wise Men or Magi, in which they parade with their entourage and they throw candy to the children. During the magical night of 5 to 6 January, the children are waiting for the Three Wise Men at home because they are going to leave presents. Children put their shoes in a visible place of the house and leave food for the kings, their pages and their camels. They must be asleep when the kings arrive, they visit all the places and listen to the kids' requests. If they have been good, they will receive the gifts or toys that they have ordered in their letters written to the kings in early December. If not, they will receive charcoal.

On the 6th, the children play with the toys and visit their relatives to collect the gifts that the the Three Wise Men have left in their homes.

This holiday, many people take part in the "lottery of the child" and share "the roscón of the Three Wise Men", typical cake, with a cup of hot chocolate.  The "roscón" is a bun with a ring shape and decorated with bits of frosty fruit, symbol of the rubies and emeralds that adorned the colorful robes of the Magi. The cake hides two surprises inside: If you discover a gift, you are lucky; but if you discover a dry bean, you have to pay the next "roscón".