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Saturday, 01 September 2018

Madrid: The Literary City of Amor - Page 2

Written by Caleb Gonzalez
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He looks at us and we look back at him in silence. He then says, “You guys will see that I’m a bit squirrely when I teach” Students look at each other as Profesor Tauler moves back and forth eventually re-adjusting the room temperature as he speaks. I don’t mind this though. He’s real. He’s honest.


“You may have not noticed,” he begins to say, re-adjusting the room temperature again. “Que Madrid, es una. Ciudad. Literaria.” This is the first time that I hear the city of Madrid being described in this way. A literary city. During class, we do not spend our time reading poetry and short stories or discussing the meaning of literary works written during the Spanish Golden Age. And this is probably why my classmates look confused. Tauler, instead, spends the class period showing us photos of him traveling about the city, and, as he adjusts the room temperature, my classmates look at each other, wondering why they’ve spent their energy in a class like this. I find it fascinating though. Fascinante! A brilliant way to teach, indeed. I can see what Tauler is doing. Enough talk about these literary works. Go see it for yourself!


“Para conocer a Madrid como una ciudad literaria, you must get out and go. And pay close attention,” he says, “the stories are all around you and in the places that you do not think.”


And Tauler is right! After class, I leave everybody behind to nap in their rooms or relax in the swimming pool to complain about the heat, just like I’ve been doing. Tauler’s perspective of Madrid entices me.


I speak Spanish like the people around me but throughout these four weeks, I really haven’t connected to the life of the city like I should. I haven’t had the confidence yet to travel by myself in Spain and to really see Madrid. To leave the circle of study abroad that I’ve been in and truly know the city in an open way.


And so I bear the heat. I take on the North African heat wave. As I walk out of my dorm room, my shirt is instantly soaked in sweat. I’ve seen the best-looking men and women (the people of Spain are quite attractive) walking around in suit jackets giving the middle finger to the heat in this city. I decide – like my Spanish comrades – that I will do the same.


* * * *

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I walk around the city wiping the sweat off my forehead in search of el barrio de las letras, the letters district. I know that the people of the city, los Madrileños, would know this area well. A Spanish man with light hair and blue eyes stands on the corner of a street and smokes his cigarette. I ask him for directions. Taking the cigarette out of his mouth, he approaches me and turns my shoulders to a certain street.

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The letters district is a neighborhood with one-way streets and Spanish balconies with clothes hanging from them. It is an area where Lope de Vega – the Spanish Shakespeare – once lived and wrote his plays during the Golden Age of Spain. Tauler told me about this neighborhood after class. It is a neighborhood familiar to poets like Quevedo and Góngora. An area where it is suspected that Miguel de Cervantes is buried. I get lost on a few streets until I find myself on a small street between two light posts. I look down where I’m standing and see Spanish words printed in gold on the actual street.


¡La belleza! Lo que es no lo sabemos por ahora con certidumbre matemática; quizá no lo sepamos nunca; pero que la belleza es algo, que existe, que palpita en la naturaleza, y que, así como la ola que llega a la playa rompe en espuma…

José Echegaray


(Beauty! We do not know what it is right now with mathematical certainty; and it is possible that we will never know what it is; but beauty is something, that exists, that beats within nature, and that, just like a wave that arrives to the beach shore breaks like foam… - Jose Echegaray)

 

This is exactly what Tauler said: Once I saw the words, I would know that I’m in the letters district. It is a small area of the city buried within the city. An area that I must seek out and find. People walk by and pass through it every day. As I read the words by Echegaray, I am reminded of the beauty of this city. And as I ponder the beauty of Madrid, I am reminded of the beauty of my own language and the beauty of the people that surround me.

 

(Page 2 of 4)
Last modified on Saturday, 01 September 2018

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