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The Alhambra - Washington Irving (Paperback) by Washington Irving (Author)
Rough draughts of some of the following tales and essays were actually written during a residence in the Alhambra; others were subsequently added, founded on notes and observations made there. Care was taken to maintain local coloring and verisimilitude; so that the whole might present a faithful and living picture of that microcosm, that singular little world into which I had been fortuitously thrown; and about which the external world had a very imperfect idea. It was my endeavor scrupulously to depict its half Spanish, half Oriental character; its mixture of the heroic, the poetic, and the grotesque; to revive the traces of grace and beauty fast fading from its walls; to record the regal and chivalrous traditions concerning those who once trod its courts; and the whimsical and superstitious legends of the motley race now burrowing among its ruins.
From The United States Democratic review, Volume 28, Issue 156, June 1851:
THE WORKS OF WASHINGTON IRVING. THE ALHAMBRA: By Washington Irving. Author’s Revised Edition. George P. Putnam.
This work is the result of a tour in the year 1829, from Seville to Grenada, in company with the Prince Dolgorouki, at present Russian Minister to the Court of Prussia, and is replete with the author’s observations on, and with descriptions of, the many scenes in that romantic country, which a visit to the throne of Boabbdil by such a man, with such a companion, would not fail to present. Mr. Irving’s renown stands far too high to make any remarks in this place upon it other than superfluous. It may but be stated that this being the fifteenth, completes the standard edition of his works, which has been some two years in course of publication by Mr. Putnam, and we are pleased to hear, with a success commensurate with their high rank in American literature.
5 out of 5 stars Fabulous evocations of the Magic of the Alhambra, March 23, 2009
By Benedict P. Lush "Benedict" (San Francisco, CA USA) (REAL NAME)
I have just listened to this book [...]. I think it is a fabulous example of a travel book. The Alhambra is a castle type of building built in the 1200's by the Moors who ruled Spain at that time.
The local people ascribed magic and treasure to their Moorish masters (magic carpets, harems, beautiful daughters kept inside the castle, Moorish soldiers, local stories). Washington Irving (the first U.S. novelist to be respected by Europeans) spent three years in Spain and found time to write these tales.
The story of his travels and his retelling of the local tales is just so dreamy and so much fun. They would be great for a family sit-around read-out-loud kind of affair.