Books

Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Journey to the Alcarria

Travels through the Spanish Countryside

by Camilo Jose Cela

“It is as a patient observer of the city and countryside that Cela will probably leave his mark on Spanish literature. His best descriptive writing lies outside the novel, in travel sketches and essays. . . . The best-known and most charming of Cela’s travel sketches is Journey to the Alcarria.” –Christopher Maurer, The New Republic

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 164
  • Publication Date February 28, 1990
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8711-3379-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $8.95

About The Book

Awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize for Literature, Camilo José Cela has long been recognized as one of the preeminent Spanish writers of the twentieth century. Journey to the Alcarria is the best known of his vagabundajes, Cela’s term for his books of travels, sketchbooks of regions or provinces. The Alcarria is a territory in New Castile, northeast of Madrid, surrounding most of the Guadalajara province. The region is high, rocky, and dry, and is famous for its honey.

Cela himself is “the traveler,” an urban intellectual wandering from village to village, through farms and along country roads, in search of the Spanish character. Cela relishes his encounters with the simple, honest people of the Spanish countryside”the blushing maid in the tavern, the small-town shopkeeper with airs of grandeur lonely for companionship, the old peasant with his donkey who freely shares his bread and blanket with the stranger. These vignettes are narrated in a fresh, clear prose that is wonderfully evocative. As the New York Times wrote, Cela is “an outspoken observer of human life who built his reputation on portraying what he observed in a direct colloquial style.”

Praise

“A rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability.” –The Swedish Academy

“It is as a patient observer of the city and countryside that Cela will probably leave his mark on Spanish literature. His best descriptive writing lies outside the novel, in travel sketches and essays. . . . The best-known and most charming of Cela’s travel sketches is Journey to the Alcarria.” –Christopher Maurer, The New Republic

“[Cela’s] posture is the most Spanish of philosophical attitudes–stoicism–and it is an attitude ideally suited to the traveler, particularly one who is out not just to savor the lived moments, but to make them live for others. . . . Cela guides us through [the Alcarria region’s] hills and fertile fields and medieval towns with great skill. He reports not just what he sees but what the things he sees evoke.” –Enrique Fernández, Condé Nast Traveler

“While his observations frequently are ironic, offhand, dry and remote, and his tone is often monotone, Mr. Cela’s sensitivity to the whisper of birds and the tenuous color of misty morning light belies an acute involvement with the world around him; his deceptive narrative device, rather than distancing the reader from the subject matter, draws him into the emotional gap between author and narrator.” –F. Lisa Beebe, Baltimore Sun

“Cela is an intelligent, urbane traveler with a keen sense for people and ear for the spoken and unspoken language. A very rich, intense, delightful book.” –John J. Daley, Sunday Republican (Waterbury)

“Cela’s greatest non-fiction work . . . this is travel writing at its most evocative, painting a landscape with a few well-chosen words, bringing characters to life with humour and sympathy and without condescension.” –The Sunday Times (London)

“A classic of Spanish travel literature. . . . The narrator . . . journeys unheroically through arid landscapes, as if through a foreign land, chatting to the locals, seeking suitable spots for siestas and kicking importunate or inconveniently located dogs. But a talent for finding the right word makes the least promising episode come alive.” –Gerald Martin, The Guardian (London)

“In prose that is fresh, clear and straightforward, Mr. Cela searches for the true character of the Spanish people . . . in a style that echoes the pure and simple dignity of the inhabitants of this rugged region.” –Victor Block, Washington Times