Folk passionate about the language and culture of Spanish speaking countries are in for a treat this month. The Cervantes Institute, established in Spain in 1991 to promote exactly that, are hosting two events in the south of England to instil some Hispanic flavour in British academia.
A recent survey indicated that 8% of the population of Britain can speak or understand the ‘language of Cervantes’ – Spanish to the layman.
Cervantes is, or as, Miguel de Cervantes. Born in sixteenth century Spain, Cervantes wrote what is considered the first modern novel, Don Quixote – regarded as amongst the best works of fiction ever written – and five centuries later inspired an institute set up in his name. It now has over 70 centres in four continents.
The essential futility
Cervantes himself would have been impressed with the calibre of another Spanish writer; Rosa Montero. Montero will deliver a lecture and meet undergraduates studying Spanish at the Cervantes Forum at the Taylor Institution in Oxford on 24 (5pm) and 25 (1pm) January, in collaboration with University of Oxford.
Montero, a prominent writer and journalist who, since 1976, has worked exclusively for the daily newspaper El Pais, will front the evening with the mandate of lecturing on ‘that essential futility: a personal reflection on the act of writing, on creation, on the status of narrative in general and in Spain’.
Montero is more qualified than most with such an assignment. Born in Madrid, she is the author of many novels, short story collections and of two autobiographical essays.
Her literary work has received wide acclaim, culminating in twice winning the award of best book published in Spain, in 2003 and 2005.
She has an honorary degree bestowed upon her by the University of Puerto Rico in 2010, recognition of her work being translated into more than 20 languages.
Rosa Montero will certainly have a busy end to January. After the Oxford lectures, she heads down the M40 to London to delve into a thought-provoking and discerning conversation on words, and how their constructs and uses shape our lives.
The Journey of Words will be held at kings College, London on 26 January at 6.30pm. Joining Montero is Maria Jose Blanco, a lecturer in Spanish at Kings College.
Such an event is the purpose of the Cervantes Institution; providing a platform for those keen to explore such a rich cultural heritage.
Cervantes Institution deliver this unique opportunity of learning more about the creative processes affiliated with word usage from two of the most revered Spanish writers. They will disseminate their intuitiveness in the perusal of words’ personal associations and their relationship with the time and space in which they occur.
Both lectures and conversation have the support of the General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, the Ministry of Culture and the Government of Spain.
More information: http://londres.cervantes.es – +44 (0) 2072350353