Pagan Spain
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Pagan Spain

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  105 ratings  ·  16 reviews
A masterful chronicler of the African American experience, Richard Wright (1908-60) was one of the most controversial & insightful writers America has produced. In '57 the publication of Pagan Spain, marked a profound change in his literary & intellectual life, reflecting a style more suitable for polemic than travel writing. Indeed, as Pagan Spain portrays midcent...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1995)
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Taylor Kate Brown
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...more
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
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,...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.
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
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...more
Eliza Kinsolving
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
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.
Ashley Lauren
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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.
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.
More about Richard Wright...
Native Son Black Boy Uncle Tom's Children The Outsider Eight Men: Short Stories

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