Why Does Spain Love Washington Irving?


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

After traveling to Spain, particularly after visiting Granada, students often report back to me that Spanish people love Washington Irving. “But why?”–they sometimes ask.

First of all, the apparent love for Irving, in part, can be traced back to his role as ambassador to Spain from 1842-1846. In fact, Madrid was under siege when Irving was living there.

Secondly, Irving was fluent in Spanish, and even did some translation work from Spanish to English. His writing has been readily translated into Spanish. I’m often reminded of Rip Van Winkle being called “Rip Rip” in the Spanish translation.

My sister is making plans to visit the country of Chile this Christmas, so I did some preliminary research on Chile, and bingo! Irving did some translation work about the country. Another blog and/or another article to come on that topic!

Thirdly, after publishing The Sketch Book, Irving spent some quality time in Spain in the 1830s. He published various texts based on his experiences there–The Alhambra, The Conquest of Granada, and a biography of Christopher Columbus. Years later, he would also publish the biography of the prophet Muhammad, from research he had gathered in Spain during the 1830s.

It’s easy to see why President Tyler in 1842 would send Irving as ambassador. He was loved by the English and the Spanish, and was a celebrity abroad.

Published in: on September 5, 2018 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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