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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…)


“Tourist in Spain» (1837) by Thomas Roscoe

Alcazar at SegoviaThomas Roscoe (Liverpool, 1791) was a British journalist and travel-writer. The account of his journeys was published by Mr. Jennings within the collection Landscape Annual. Although Mr. Roscoe wrote four volumes on Spain –which can be found in our library–, Tourist in Spain: Biscay and the Castile’s is his most representative piece of travel writing. He also wrote works on France, Italy and Morocco and The Life and Writings of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

In Tourist in Spain (1837) the author relates the events that took place throughout his travels around Spain, starting in the autumn of 1935. Bayonne is the starting point of the peninsular tour, through the Pyrenees, visiting then Vitoria, Burgos, Segovia, Madrid and ending in Toledo. Within the first half of the volume, Mr. Roscoe stresses the events related to the conflict that is taking place during that period, the First Carlist War, and its “barbarous excesses committed on both sides throughout this lamentable war”.

Besides Roscoe’s personal adventures, the author relates stories from other people that he met during his journey. With regard to the Spaniards, the journalist states that “they do not govern themselves here by the laws of ethics, but by custom, or according to the rules they can suck out of the pith of old proverbs, mostly antediluvian, and just suited to the world as it existed before the flood”.

Street of Alcalá, MadridThe engravings by David Roberts that illustrate the book are one of the most remarkable features of this volume. According to Spectator, “The engravings are so uniformly excellent, that we cannot, without doing injustice to the other, name any one in particular. They are, for the most part, perfect”.


About the author:


Online book:


Other works on Spain by Roscoe:




The Silent Revolution

ICLL Podcast series: New Episode (in Spanish)

The Silent Revolution

Graphic design between 1920 and 1950 constituted a means of distribution for aesthetic and political avant-garde ideas. In contrast with the Muralist movement, its presence was rather more modest but its scope was wider.

While the muralists were painting their masterpieces on official buildings, graphic art was being distributed through educational channels and channels for literacy campaigns all over the country. Some of the best artists participated in this work: Leopoldo Méndez, Alvarado Lang, Jean Charlot, Emilio Amero.

Small print production cooperatives such as Escuelas al Aire Libre, Taller de la Gráfica Popular (TGP) and artistic movements such as Los Estridentistas emerged.

José Manuel Springer

Collaborating Organisation
Embajada de México (Reino Unido)


“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”)




ICLL Podcast Series

Did you miss any of our cultural events? Don’t worry. Now you can catch up with our book presentations, lectures and workshops.

The Instituto Cervantes Library in London [ICLL] is uploading the cultural events held at the Instituto since January 2010, and gradually, we are digitizing the recordings we keep in our archives since 1992.

Here you are the first one of our podcast series. Enjoy!

Michael Jacobs and Paul Preston

Spain, for all its recent changes, continues to be a country perceived by foreigners in terms of stereotypes dating back to the early 19th century. I argue that modern chroniclers fail to reflect the reality of a nation whose already diverse traditions now embrace a multitude of European, South American, and African cultures.´ Michael Jacobs  

Paul Preston described Michael Jacobs, as ´the magical realist hispanist’.  He has been travelling around Spain and the Hispanic world since childhood.

His many books on the country include Between Hopes and Memories: A Spanish Journey, and The Factory of Light: Tales from my Andalucian Village, to be published in Spanish by Ediciones B in February 2010. Listen now!    


Michael Jacobs
Paul Preston


I Short Story Competition: El Quijote de tu vida

  Banco de Santander
Instituto Cervantes 
  Embajada de España en Reino Unido. Consejería de Educación

To celebrate International Book Day on 23 April, the UK Instituto Cervantes centres, in collaboration with the Education Office of the Spanish Embassy in the UK, and with the support of Banco Santander, is holding its first Short Story Competition.  This theme for this year is: ‘El Quijote de tu vida’. 


Download (.pdf) in English (.doc) in English
Descarga (.pdf) en español (.doc) en español

1. Applicants must be students of Spanish as a second language, of any nationality, who are studying in the UK and want to put their imagination to the test. Each candidate is allowed to submit only one short story. 

2. Each short story, written in Spanish, must not exceed the 500-word limit (approximately 20-25 lines, in Times New Roman font, at 12pt.). It must be original and unpublished and not have been previously awarded in any other contest or competition. 

3. The theme of the short story must answer and correspond with the question ‘Who in your life reminds you of Quijote?’ It must therefore be inspired by, for example, a family member or a friend who, in the author’s opinion, is most like the character created by Miguel de Cervantes. 

4. There are two competition categories: 

            a) 7-11 year olds 

            b) 12-19 year olds 

5. Those in the first category are permitted to write their short story in Spanish or English. Those in the second category, however, must present their story in Spanish only. 

6. All entries must be sent by email to biblon(at)cervantes.es with the subject line ‘Concurso de Mini-Relatos’. In the email, applicants are required to provide their name and surname, full postal address, telephone number and the name of their school and Spanish Language teacher. The short story should be sent as an attachment. 

7. All short stories must be received by 9 April 2010. 

8. The winners will be announced on 23 April at an award ceremony which will take place at the Instituto Cervantes centre in London, as part of the International Book Day celebrations. 

9. The judging panel will be chaired by the Director of the Instituto Cervantes and made up of other members of staff from the Instituto Cervantes in London, Manchester and Leeds, and the Education Office of the Spanish Embassy in the UK. The panel will choose a winner from both categories. Prize-winners will be awarded for their expression, creativity and originality and also their overall response to the question posed. 

10.  Prize winners of both categories will be awarded the following: 

–          First Prize: courtesy of Banco Santander – a cheque to the value of £500 for the library of the winning school and a voucher for £200 for the winning author. In both cases, the prize money must be used for buying books or other resources related to the Spanish speaking world and Spanish language learning. 

–          Second Prize: a selection of books, CDs and DVDs of well-known Spanish and Latin American authors and artists. 

11. All participants are welcome to attend the award ceremony, accompanied by the family member or friend who inspired their short story. The Education Office of the Spanish Embassy in the UK will cover the travel expenses of the prize-winner and their guest (one per prize-winner), should they be travelling from outside of London. 

The winning short stories will be read out to the audience by their authors. 

We look forward to receiving your short story!   

22 February 2010


Sir John Carr’s travels in Spain in 1809

Descriptive travels, John CarrSir John Carr (1772–1832) was a travel writer born in London on 6 December 1772. A short biography is available at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Our copy of Descriptive travels in the southern and eastern parts of Spain and the Balearic Isles in the year 1809 was published in London in 1811.
 Descriptive travels … includes some interesting engravings of the city of Granada (frontispiece), Cádiz from the sea (pp. 112-113), Valencia from the river Segura (pp. 254-255), Ermita de Santa Anna in Montserrat (pp. 316-317), La Granja d’Esporles (pp. 356-357) and Port de Maó (pp. 368-369)

Mahon, Minorca
 Appendix III contains a table with details about the different coins used in Spain, the “Spanish Money” (maravedíes, reales, sols y diners) and its exchange rates.

Sir John Carr visited Spain during the Peninsular War, providing the book with important episodes.

The last chapter is entirely dedicated to the island of Menorca which had been under British sovereignty during the last hundred years (with the exception of the brief period of French occupation).

Carr arrives in Cádiz and travels around Andalusia. There are references to the Central Commission and to the Second Siege of Saragossa. After visiting Granada, Carr travels to Murcia, Valencia and Cataluña, and finally ends his journey in Palma.

Amongst the contents dealt with in the book, we can find odd references such as “Waiters, Spanish, How called”, “Women, Spanish, their devotional coquetry”, or “Galejos, or porters from Galicia, their honesty”, etc.

Although Sir John Carr met Lord Byron in Cádiz, there are no references in this index about this meeting.


About the Author (in Spanish):

http://www.dipalme.org/Servicios/Anexos/anexosiea.nsf/VAnexos/IEA-LVA09/$File/LVA09.pdf (pages 6 to 7)

About the book:

Cristina Torres-Fontes Suárez. Viajes de extranjeros por el reino de Murcia. T. 1
Asamblea Regional Real Academia Alfonso X el Sabio 
1996  ISBN84-88996-05-5 

There is an extract in Spanish about the «Reino de Murcia»


Storytelling = Cuentacuentos

CuentacuentosStorytelling and a fancy mask-making workshop joined together in a morning session in order to offer the little ones a few hours of magic and creativity in Spanish.

For the workshop we will be joined by Alberto San Andrés, founding member of Asociación Gozart, professional puppeteer and experienced in working with children. We will also be joined by professional storyteller Marta Marco Martialay, who has worked at festivals all over Spain.

For children between 5 and 8

Alberto San Andrés
Marta Marco Martialay

For inscription contact: cultlon1(at)cervantes.es. Approximate number of children: 30

Prácticas para bibliotecarios en Reino Unido = Work experience for librarians in UK

Especialmente para estudiantes o profesionales españoles que deseen realizar prácticas o buscar trabajo en bibliotecas del Reino Unido, enviamos una serie de enlaces que quizás puedan ser útiles.

  • Para profesionales o estudiantes interesados en trabajar en Reino Unido, casi toda la información se puede encontrar en:


CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) es la institución de referencia para los bibliotecarios británicos. En su página podemos encontrar una gran cantidad de recursos que están a disposición de sus miembros y de los que no lo son, porque a muchas de sus informaciones se puede acceder libremente.

Sobre trabajo e intercambios, por ejemplo, encontraremos:

  1. El enlace a la página LISJOBNET, que ofrece alertas e información de ofertas de trabajo para bibliotecarios y profesionales de la información www.lisjobnet.com
  2. El enlace a INFOMATCH, que es una agencia de trabajo para bibliotecarios y documentalistas integrada en CILIP http://www.cilip.org.uk/jobscareers/infomatch
  3. Y el enlace a LIBEX, que es la base de datos que sirve a los miembros de CILIP para INTERCAMBIAR trabajos con profesionales de las bibliotecas y de la información en todo el mundo.

Para acceder a la base de datos LIBEX hay que darse de alta. Los trabajadores de fuera de Reino Unido NO TIENEN QUE SER MIEMBROS de CILIP para darse de alta y hacerlo es gratis. Estos trabajadores (los extranjeros) solo pueden hacer intercambio con trabajadores del Reino Unido.

 Aquí se explica todo acerca de LIBEX: http://www.cilip.org.uk/jobscareers/libex/

 Y aquí está el enlace para darte de alta: http://libex.camp7.org/Default.aspx?pageId=66837

En la página de CILIP se pueden encontrar muchas otras cosas interesantes, como por ejemplo una guía de salarios de bibliotecarios: http://www.cilip.org.uk/jobscareers/salaries

 o información sobre cursos: http://www.cilip.org.uk/training/training

 etc, etc, etc.


Oportunidades de voluntariado (en todas las áreas, también en bibliotecas o puntos de información) http://www.volunteering.org.uk/

 Aquí: http://www.do-it.org.uk/advanced.do , seleccionando por ejemplo London en el primer campo y Library en el último aparecen unas cuantas posibilidades.

 Más voluntariado a nivel internacional, de tipo general: http://www.idealist.org

Pensado fundamentalmente para estudiantes británicos que buscan un lugar en el que hacer sus prácticas, pero donde todo el mundo se puede registrar, PROSPECTS ofrece información sobre trabajo en prácticas para estudiantes y trabajo para graduados o licenciados.





 También con información sobre trabajos para bibliotecarios:


POR ÚLTIMO,  ofrecemos un listado de las bibliotecas académicas en Reino Unido con sección de español que pertenecen a WESLINE:


 Y con sección de Latinoamérica:


 Veréis que varios contactos se repiten.

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