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The secret history of Costaguana

ICLL Podcast series: New Episode (in English)

Book launch

London 1903, and Colombian José Altamirano has just arrived from a place he wishes to forget, shouldering a past he regrets and more guilt than anyone can carry.

He could have stopped the cession of the Panama territory, but chose not to. He then realises that Joseph Conrad is beginning to publish Nostromo, recounting a story he once related to him, and that he is being marginalised and virtually erased from that history.

Juan Gabriel Vázquez was born in bogotá in 1973 and now lives in Barcelona. His essays, reviews and reportages have appeared in various magazines and literary supplements. He was recently nominated as one of the «Bogota 39», South America’s most promising writers of the new generation.


The Life and poetry of Miguel Hernández = La vida y la obra de Miguel Hernández

ICLL Podcast series: New Episode (in Spanish)

Round Table discussion about the life and poetry of Miguel Hernández.

Participants: Rosa Navarrro, University of Barcelona & Alan Feinstein, writer & translator.
Miguel Hernández was born in Orihuela (Alicante) in 1910. His poetry is characterised by its strong lyricism, exemplified in both his first collection of poems, Perito en lunas (1933), and in his classical sonnets such as El rayo que no cesa.

His poems cover the themes of love, death, war and injustice, themes of which he had personal and intense experience. He fought with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War.

In prison he wrote Cancionero y romancero de ausencias (published in 1958), poems dedicated to his wife who lived in miserable conditions. He died in prison at the age of 31. (In Spanish)


The poetry of Jaime Siles from 1969-2009 = La poesía de Jaime Siles

ICLL Podcast series: New Episode (in Spanish) Jaime Siles talks about his development as a poet since 1969, discussing and reading the most representative poems of different periods of his evolution.

Jaime Siles habla sobre su evolución poética desde 1969 hasta hoy, ilustrándola con la lectura y comentario de los poemas de diferentes épocas que considera más representativos.

Jaime Siles is an award-winning poet and critic. He is Professor of Classic Philology and has taught in various European universities. Currently, he teaches Classic Philology at the University of Valencia and is the President of the Spanish Society of Classical Studies. He also writes essays and literary criticism. Since 2005 he has written for the daily newspaper ABC. he is also a permanent member of the Royal Academy of Culture of Valencia.


Eurotoolbox launch


We have pleasure in inviting you to join us for the Exhibition Launch at the Music Library, Barbican Centre.
Wed. 23rd of June, 6:30 p.m.
DownloadDownload invitation

Eurotoolbox on the road:
a travelling exhibition of Children and Youth literature from Europe

  • Five specially chosen collections for children and youth literature from Europe on display
  • Panel talk with Axel Scheffler (illustrator, Germany), Paloma Bordons (writer and illustrator, Spain) and John Lake (librarian, Barbican Library)
  • Refreshments and snacks will be served

Wed. 23rd of June, 6:30 p.m. Music Library, Barbican Centre. Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS Barbican



Adquisition Tools

Selection Tools


Who’s it for?
Public librarians (incl. children’s librarians); school librarians; ‘special’ librarians; any librarian who wants to know more about meeting users’ needs for material in western European languages. The books could be displayed in staff areas or in public areas, as you wish.

What’s in it?
Five specially chosen collections of children’s and youth literature from Europe, in the original language (French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish, between 12 and 15 books in each language). The authors and illustrators selected represent some of the very best in children’s book production in these languages.

How much does it cost?
The exhibition is free to borrow. You will need to organise transportation to the next borrower yourself. The exhibition is packed into 2 boxes, total weight about 30kg.

How can I borrow it?
You can borrow the exhibition for about 2 – 4 weeks at a time. To book a time slot, please contact David Carrión at the Instituto Cervantes from the 1st of June 2010.

For more details:


DownloadDownload the ppt presentation

Download full contents listing (PDF, 77 KB)

Download flyer (Doc, 32 KB)



Adquisition Tools

Selection Tools



Young Translators’ Prize

El 6 de mayo de 2010 en Books, Translations por | Sin comentarios

In 2010 Harvill Secker celebrates 100 years of publishing quality international writing. In honour of this centenary, Harvill Secker and Waterstone’s have teamed up to recognise the achievements of young translators at the start of their careers.

Judges Margaret Jull Costa (translator), Nicholas Shakespeare (author), and Briony Everroad (editor) will carefully consider translations of ‘El hachazo’, a short story by the exciting young Argentinian writer Matías Néspolo.

The winning translator will be awarded £1000.

Deadline for entries: 31st July 2010.

To enter and for further information, please visit





«Travels in Portugal… and Spain» by H. F. Link

Following his interest in botany, entomology and ornithology, Henry Frederick Link visited Spain with the Count of Hoffmannfegg, in 1798. The origin of this journey was initially to do a research focused in Portugal, as Link himself underlines in the introduction of the book “to collect materials for Fauna and Flora Lusitaniae”.

However, his exploration spread out to Spain and France and he went beyond his scientific purpose and decided to write a travel book about these three countries.


“At the time we had no idea of publishing and account of our travels as such; our chief attention was directed to investigating the works of nature, especially the botanical riches of the country”

Nevertheless on his return, after reading numerous accounts of travels in Portugal, Link discovered so many inaccuracies that he decided to “seize the pen to defend my friends the Portugueze” and wrote Travels in Portugal and through France and Spain. With a dissertation on the literature of Portugal, and the Spanish and Portugueze Languages.

Written in 1801 and translated from the German by John Hincley the copy available in our library was published that year by Nichols and Son Printers, in London. The information related to Spain is gathered in six chapters of the book (VII-XI), from Biscay to Extremadura, through Castile and Madrid.



About the author:


About the book:

(pdf – page 18)


Online book:



Club de lectura = Reading group

El 22 de marzo de 2010 en Books, Reading group por | Sin comentarios
El Colectivo invites you to the Reading Group that organizes in collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes. It offers you the opportunity to talk about and discuss Spanish and Latin American literature, imitating the traditional Spanish tertulia. The reading group meets one Friday per month at 6.30pm in the Instituto Cervantes; it is free to join and you are welcome to come along to any session. In order to participate, there is only one requirement: to have read the scheduled book.
El Colectivo te invita a participar en el Club de Lectura que organiza en colaboración con El Instituto Cervantes. Las reuniones recuperan la tradición de la tertulia y son gratuitas y abiertas. Para participar sólo hay un requisito: haber leído el libro que se propone cada mes.
Here you are the books to come // Los próximos libros serán:
  • Todas las almas de Javier Marías -26 de marzo, 6.30pm
  • El olvido que seremos de Héctor Abad -23 de abril, 6.30pm
  • La virgen de los sicarios de Fernando Vallejo -28 mayo, 6.30pm
  • El mundo de Juan José Millás -25 junio, 6.30pm
  • La invención de Morel de Bioy Casares -16 julio, 6.30pm




Laughing over lemons

Chris StewartWE DON’T do stand-up comedy at the Instituto Cervantes, we don’t even do sit-down comedy very often, but last night’s audience with Chris ‘Driving Over Lemons’ Stewart was the funniest evening LondonSpanish has had for some time.

Chris proved he is just as witty a speaker as he is a writer, and another packed house was soon laughing along as he recounted his latest adventures and embarrassments in the Alpujarras. Like the rest of Andalusia, the area has seen rainfall of epic proportions in the past few months, and Chris told how a flood swept away one of its many ham-curing houses.

Locals gathered downstream hoping to salvage some of the contents as they were washed up – only to find the meat had been smashed away by the torrent and just bones remained. As Chris would later point out, mountain people are a little, um, different.

(Read more…)


“Spain and its People” by Eugène Poitou

Spain and its people

First published in France in 1869, Spain and its People. A record of Recent Travel with historical and topographical notes, was translated by William Henry Davenport Adams, an English writer and journalist (whose biography is available in Wikipedia) in 1872. 

The copy accessible in our library contains numerous engravings by V. Foulquier portraying scenes of the everyday life in Spain, its landscapes, traditions and main episodes of its History. 

As Davenport points out in the preface, 

if Poitou´s pages pretend to no great depth of reflection, they sketch the present condition of Spain, – they delineate its landscapes, they cull the choicest episodes of its history, and touch upon the more conspicuous features of the Spanish character,- with unfailing good sense, quick discrimination, and considerable facility. 

Spanish people and their manners are the object of a lot of criticism made by Poitou through this book, staying such things as They have no taste or Spain, nevertheless, is very good! But, I must own, the Spaniards have somewhat spoiled it; and thanks to them, I return more persuaded that ever of the truth of the adage, that we always learn something by travelling, if it be only to love better our own country”

Don Quixote

Don Quixote

Starting from the northern cities bordering on France and heading southwards, the author takes particular interest in describing the Cathedral of Toledo, Museo del Prado in Madrid or Zaragoza, which the author believes to be “the most interesting city of Spain”. At the beginning of every chapter a poem of renowned author is included, verses by Byron, Southey and Jorge Manrique, among others. 


About the author: 


About the book: 


Online book: 




Ediciones EL CIPRÉS: Brand New Spanish Publishing House

Ediciones El Ciprés was born in León, Spain, just a few weeks ago. They are publishing fiction and poetry and Antino, a novel by Mercedes Unzeta Gullón, is the first title in their catalogue. Good luck!

Fear, love, lack of affection/indifference, greed, life and death are the protagonists of this moving true story led by the character of Antino, a young, attractive and lively thirty-seven-year-old man who, at the happiest and most joyful time of his existence learns that his future is coming to an end, and his life is tagged with an expiry date: a few years, although it will be a lot less.

The story, taking place between a Mediterranean island and the city of Madrid, narrates the existential changes that will occur in the life of Antino and those around him. Changes that make the foreseeable turn into the unexpected, and the unthinkable become something usual.

It is essential to take into consideration how the disease is approached in the story.

It used only a sinister and painful excuse to take the reader down a path in which all human grandeurs and miseries are revealed. AIDS is the slap in the face that the characters get, to wake them up to the realities of life and death; knowing how to approach these realities (which we tend to ignore in our day to day lives) with love and courage is one of life’s greatest difficulties. They are the main issues of the human being, its constants: love, life, doubt, death; the difference is on the approach we use.

The story could lead to self-compassion, be torn apart, to an open heart…

Keeping the courage and at the same time building a tender, accepting atmosphere, making bonds that would be impossible in other circumstances, is an achievement that, to anyone who has ever endured (and who hasn’t?) an intense sentiment of any kind must draw an interest.

The reader is first introduced to the situation as an observer, from the outside, with initial surprise. Then he will become a participant, mainly in the love, but also in the pain, the anguish, the contempt, and the astonishment towards the meanness some fellow men are able to display. And will end up seated by Enriqueta and Cristina’s side, feeling the strong presence of Antino, and laughing with their complicity to the dismayed expression of a young funerary.

A strong optimism, full of hope and joy, floods the environment that nurtures/nourishes the details of the story. Love and humour, in equal quantities, are shared out with generosity in its essential lines.

Some novels turn those who approach them into observers, critics, contributors, masters, pupils,… but to achieve all at the same time is a rarity. This novel is one of those rare pieces.

Elena Miranda Alas. Ediciones El Ciprés (“El Ciprés Publishing House”)




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