"Sketches of Spain": Richard Wright's 'Pagan Spain' and African-American representations of the Hispanic

Reynolds, G. (2000) "Sketches of Spain": Richard Wright's 'Pagan Spain' and African-American representations of the Hispanic. Journal of American Studies, 34 . pp. 487-502. ISSN 0021-8758. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

At the start of Pagan Spain (1957), Richard Wright recalled a 1946 conversation with Gertrude Stein; she encouraged him to visit Spain: “ ‘You'll see what the Western world is made of. Spain is primitive, but lovely. ’ ” Wright meditated on his fascination with that country, an obsession rooted in the Civil War's political upheaval: “The fate of Spain hurt me, haunted me; I was never able to stifle a hunger to understand what had happened there and why” (PS, 10). Wright wrote as a leftist, as a political writer who had published anti-Franco articles. In his interest in Spain, and especially in his “hunger to understand” its fate after the fall of the Republic, Wright kept company with many mid-century American artists. Hemingway is the most famous instance of a writer engaged with Spanish affairs, but forms of Hispanophilia have marked the lives of many writers and painters. In his account of a trip to Madrid in 1947, Saul Bellow recalled: “ ‘And then of course I had followed the Spanish Civil War and knew as much about what had gone on in Spain between 1936–8 as a young American of that time could learn.’ ” At around that time, the Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell was creating his series of Elegies to the Spanish Republic, a parade of largely black canvases dominated by oblique representations of archetypal Spanish subjects such as bullfighting. As Arthur Danto has written of these images: “ ‘Spain’ denotes a land of suffering and poetic violence and political agony, and ‘Elegy’ carries the literary weight of tragedy and disciplined lamentation. ”

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: A. Xie
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2009 11:07
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2009 11:07
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/16566 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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