Virginia Woolf and her travels through Spain: “The most splendid country I have ever seen”

Portrait of the British writer Virginia Woolf, pseudonym used by Virginia Stephen (1882-1941). EFE / Archive

Madrid, Nov 28 (EFE) .- “Spain is, by far, the most splendid country I have seen in my life,” said the British writer Virginia Woolf, who traveled the country three times and recorded her impressions in newspapers, letters and essays that the Itineraria publishing house has collected in a book.
“Hacia el sur. Viajes por España de Virginia Woolf” is the title of this book that collects for the first time everything that this author, one of the most innovative writers of the 20th century and a fundamental figure of feminism, wrote about her stays in the peninsula.
Virginia Woolf (London, 1882-Sussex, 1941) traveled to Spain three times. The first was in 1905, when he was only 23 years old, in the company of his brother Adrian, after a serious depression that he suffered on the death of his father; in 1912 he returned to Spain on his honeymoon with Leonard Woolf, on a trip in which they also went to Italy; and in 1923 they returned to the Alpujarras to visit their friend Gerald Brenan.
The editorial Itineraria, specialized in the publication of travel literature, explains that “Hacia el sur” is not a typical travel book as it consists of extracts from letters, essays and diaries of the British writer compiled from different publications and many of them unpublished in Castilian, but it does include places where he passed.
Places like Amonhon, who seems to have confused and on which his essay “Una posada andaluza” is based, published in The Guardian on July 19, 1905.
And it is that, after a search on maps of the railway networks of the time, everything would point, it is explained in the book, that it is a district called Almorchón, belonging to the town of Cabeza del Buey, in Badajoz, since It has a railway station since the 19th century and a castle that match its itinerary and description: just a few kilometers apart “An Andalusian inn” would actually be “An Extremaduran inn”.
An illustrated book by Carmen Bueno, which draws the places that the writer stepped on in her travels through Andalusia, and which has forewords by writers and researchers specialized in Woolf’s work: Verónica Pachecho, Ángeles Mora and Anita Botwin.
University professor Pablo de Olavide and literary translator Verónica Pacheco explains how in the texts that Virginia Woolf wrote during her first trip, a young Londoner is glimpsed almost disgusted by the absence of comforts to which she is accustomed.
But already in the second, and especially in the third trip, almost 20 years after the first, he sees Spain with different eyes, “marveling at the landscapes of Granada, with the freedom of wild nature, the smells and colors that they fascinate, “says Pacheco.
Impressions counted in newspapers and letters. Since she was a child, Virginia wrote in her journal regularly. And letter writing was a daily and innate activity in his family, missives that were stacked, tied and kept to preserve the past.
In a letter after his second trip to Spain, dated September 17, 1912, he writes: “I believe that Spain is by far the most splendid country I have ever seen in my life.”
“The only downside to our trip is that it was very, very hot in Madrid and Toledo, and that these skies are hopelessly blue,” he says.
In May 1923 he published the essay “Towards Spain” in which he recounted an extensive journey and in which phrases such as “the English man’s hat is insignificant for Sierra Nevada” appear.
The writer and poet Ángeles Mora (National Critics Prize 2015 and National Poetry Prize 2016) also recalls in the prologue to the book how it has often been considered that in Virginia Woolf life and literature are confused: “Her life is her writing and your writing is your own life. ”
Carmen Naranjo

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