|About the Book|
I purchased a copy of Washington Irvings Spanish Papers on a whim. It was sitting on a specials table outside a second hand book shop, looking quite forlorn and forgotten. It was a small brown Knickerbocker Edition with beat up ends and raggedy corners. Looking inside I saw it was marked down from $45 to just $5. I was uncertain if I wanted the book but flicked through it anyhow, put it down but then picked it up again on the way out and purchased it. I must say it was one of the best purchases I made this year (besides my new car).This book is not great history but it is great reading! Its been a while since I have so thoroughly enjoyed a book like this. Spanish Papers is a number of stories and legends covering the history of the Muslim conquest of Spain and the later recovery by Christian forces. These stories are from unpublished manuscripts left by Washington Irving in his will after his death.The style of writing is from a period that is well worth visiting from time to time, written by an author who truly loved the subject, a romantic of this period. Washington Irving was resident in Spain for a period of time and had access to the many Muslim and Christian chronicles written during this period of Spains dramatic history. I loved the stories, all based on fact but told with the flair for the melodramatic, the style of writing was truly engaging and I loved being dragged into these old accounts. For example, This is the authors description if an advancing Muslim army about to give battle:Their turbans and robes, of various dyes and fashions, gave a splendid appearance to their host- as they marched a cloud of dust arose and partly hid them from the sight, but still there would break forth flashes of steel and gleams of burnished gold, like rays of vivid lightning- while the sound of drum and trumpet, and the clash of Moorish cymbal, were as the warlike thunder within that stormy cloud of battle.The aftermath of that battle:On the morning after the battle, the Arab leader, Taric ben Zeyad, rode over the bloody field of the Guadalete, strewed with the ruins of those splendid armies which had so lately passed like glorious pageants along the river banks. There Moor and Christian, horseman and horse lay gashed with hideous wounds- and the river, still red with blood, was filled with the bodies of the slain. The gaunt Arab was as a wolf roaming through the fold he had laid waste. On every side his eye reveled on the ruin of the country, on the wrecks of haughty Spain. There lay the flower of her youthful chivalry, mangled and destroyed, and the strength of her yeomanry prostrated in the dust. The Gothic noble lay confounded with his vassals, the peasant with the prince - all ranks and dignities were mingled in one bloody massacre.So if you like tales of daring-do from knights and cavaliers of old then I think you will really enjoy the stories in this book. I was happily surprised in how much I did!