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Pagan Spain

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  139 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
A master chronicler of the African-American experience, Richard Wright brilliantly expanded his literary horizons with Pagan Spain, originally published in 1957. The Spain he visited in the mid-twentieth century was not the romantic locale of song and story, but a place of tragic beauty and dangerous contradictions. The portrait he offers is a blistering, powerful, yet scr ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 1960)
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Taylor Kate Brown
Nov 19, 2008 Taylor Kate Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Richard Wright shook things up with Black Boy and Native Son, but his travelogue/social commentary upon Spain in the 1950s is brilliantly evoked. Wright isn't objective, and I'm still not sure if he's right in his ultimate conclusion, but I can't deny it was one of the more powerful books I've read lately.

There's a longer passage I'd like to reproduce later because it speaks so much to my experience in Egypt and being able to effectively recognize what kind of privilege you inhabit by being torn
Jan 08, 2011 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author of Black Boy and Native Son as an expatriate living in Paris travels through Franco's Spain during the 1950's. The writing is excellent...many quotable quotes to keep the reader thinking. Wright struggles with and concedes his identity as western and Protestant in light of his marginalization as a Black American in his native country. He shares perspectives through the lenses of gender, race, nationality, religion and politics that are both historically located in the time, but also c ...more
Jaybird Rex
May 12, 2010 Jaybird Rex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful writing outshines the subject matter. In a very pleasant read, the author explores the secretive world and history of Franco's Spain. The characters are so good they couldn't be made up and the atmosphere is creepy in a thoroughly pagan way. Unfortunately, Wright didn't quite spoon-feed what he means by Spain being "pagan", but a reasonably intelligent reader will figure it out.

I consciously avoid travel-writing books but this one was the best I ever expect to read about modern Spain,
Grady Ormsby
Apr 16, 2015 Grady Ormsby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pagan Spain by Richard Wright is an interesting book with Wright in the role of journalist rather than novelist. In 1953 and 1954 he took trips to Spain from his home base in Paris. His intention was not to write a travelogue but to attempt to capture the spirit of Franco’s totalitarian Spain. He interviewed a broad spectrum of people, little people, big people, scholars, journalists, Falangists, working people, old people, young people. The title refers to the mindset Wright found in Spain in t ...more
So far I'm really blown away by his writing. I don't know if it's just that I really like his style or that I'm sentimental about Spain because I had such a love-hate thing about it when I lived there.

Update: I'm not sure I would use "blown away" to describe the rest of the book. I liked it, but I think I liked the beginning best. I found the chapters where he quotes wholesale from the Francoist pamphlet (am I remembering that right?) tedious but informationally interesting.
Apr 13, 2012 Oliver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A total sleeper for me! I had been reading a lot of Hemingway at the time, and stumbled upon this jewel. His style is so powerful, he really takes you there and lets you feel the struggles of Spain...A great read
Jul 28, 2013 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Published in 1957, this book is of historical interest really, since it describes a way of Spanish life that is, thankfully, mostly history now (although Spaniards do still have a penchant for religious pageant and prostitution -- Wright is interesting on both of these). It's not a history book though -- it's a very personal view of a country that Wright was not that familiar with. He had done some research, of course, but there's the odd factual error (Charles V's "cathedral" in the Alhambra fo ...more
J.T. Oldfield
From my review:

Wright doesn't really delve into what he means by his title except for a few pages towards the end of the book. He felt that Spain was different than the rest of the West, was not, in fact, a Western country, due to its non-secular government. Because it was so wrapped up in the Church, and because its particular brand of Catholicism involved heavy inclusion of Saints (and their miracles) and relics, it was, in fact, not Christian but pagan. This word he uses, pagan, was perhaps n
Aug 12, 2014 Eliza rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting, controversial perspective on Franco Spain. Beautifully written and wonderfully anecdotal. Interesting to read a lesser known work of Wright given his significant impact on Civil Rights in our country.
Rick Homuth
Jun 16, 2014 Rick Homuth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, really cool. Essentially a travel diary, but written by someone with such a mastery of the medium that it reads like something entirely more adventurous.
Kristina Gibson
Feb 01, 2015 Kristina Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply amazing.
Nov 09, 2014 Meylan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for one of my classes and I liked the way the author included the everyday struggles of the people of Spain during this time.
Ashley Lauren
Jun 14, 2009 Ashley Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a fantastic one for me to read after having spent four months in Spain recently. This book (written by the magnificent Richard Wright) showed in a vivid and entrancing manner a Spain very different from the one that I had experienced. It shows a Spain under Franco and Wright does a phenominal job of highlighting people and how they lived during the time of his visit. If you are interested in Spain at all, I definitely recommend this book.
Matthew S Wilson
A fascinating insight into Franco's Spain. Well written but more of a collection of essays than a novel. Nonetheless, extremely useful for my own research into this period of Spain's history.
Steven  Passmore
Jul 19, 2013 Steven Passmore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kind of interesting how he ties ancient paganism to Latin Catholicism. Also the pervading feudalism in Spain to the same feudalism in Mississippi and the South. "Pagan Spain" was ironically my first Richard Wright book, but I'll pick up "Native Son" after this.
Christopher Staley
Sep 30, 2007 Christopher Staley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in European History
I thought it was far more insightful than Hemmingway on the same subject (generally speaking) - and I'm a fan of Hemmingway. Gave me a whole new understanding of a Arrabal's work.
Petter Nordal
Aug 02, 2010 Petter Nordal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe you want a more in-depth analysis with more history and broader depth. Then it would also be less like a letter from a friend and take longer to read.
Jul 28, 2011 José rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great prose, even if I didn't quite agree with the author's conclusion all the time. I have to make allowance for the period during which he wrote.
Nov 30, 2008 Meggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting account of Spain in the 50s, mostly anecdotal rather than a survey.
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Richard Nathaniel Wright was an African-American author of powerful, sometimes controversial novels, short stories and non-fiction. Much of his literature concerned racial themes. His work helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
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