In Amor se escribe sin hache (Amor is written without H, 1929), “an almost cosmopolitan novel,” Enrique Jardiel Poncela describe Birmingham as “the Albacete of the United Kingdom.” Not to be outdone, José Martínez Azorín (who also gave the Generation of 98 its name) baptised Albacete “the New York of La Mancha.” That all this praise merely situates the genuine poverty suffered in Albacete in the early twentieth century in the context of the extraordinary deprivation of La Mancha can be seen from the following, admittedly partial pamphlet published in Seville in 1937 (Albacete es una provincia rusa. Y Cartagena una ciudad bolchevique.):
Albacete is Russian [ie ruled by Russian and Spanish Stalinists]. In the middle of the countryside, far from the fronts, an uneducated region, already breathing the atmosphere of La Mancha and its windmills. In the centre of this old and miserable town, its houses built on the hillside, many of them mud, real hovels, a conglomeration of misery considered unworthy of bombing by the aeroplanes.
Albacete es ruso. En pleno campo, lejos de todos los frentes, una región inculta, que tiene ya el ambiente de La Mancha y sus molinos. En el centro de esta vieja y miserable ciudad, de casas construídas en la colina, muchas de ellas de barro, verdaderas guaridas, un conjunto de miseria que los aviones no tienen ningún interés en bombardear.
The generalisation of “X is the Y of Z” facilitates radical navigational strategies. However, not all the insights provided by cycling around Germany using the 1905 Baedeker streetmap of greater London can be described as useful.
- Ahistorical Albacete
Unlike Carlos, I’m actually rather fond of Albacete, and not just because its ugliness is on a smaller scale than Birmingham’s.
- Literary ways and means, and the triviality of love
Enrique Jardiel Poncela claims in an afterword to have written his “quasi-cosmopolitan novel”, Amor se escribe sin hache (Amor is written
- What do you call an Eskimo with bananas in his ears?
The customary riposte is near the end of this post, but Enrique Jardiel Poncela gives a roundabout and, for those of
- Errar es umano
Herrar es de Vulcano & colegas.
- Spring is here
Life is skittles, life is beer, and, where possible, life is adultery. There’s a lovely bit in Enrique Jardiel Poncela’s But