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Roads to Santiago
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 1999
Spain becomes grist for the cracked mill wheel of Cees Nooteboom's mind. The book isn't really about Spain, it's about the author and his obsessive fixation with certain Spanish topics. He does this with painfully long rambling descriptions of various Spanish cultural icons that have caught his attention, drilling down to the time when they first caught his attention and the many times since then that he has pondered them. The topics themselves are interesting but almost irrelevant to the self indulgent dredging of the author's own mind. You would learn more hard facts about these topics from a museum brochure. The twin pillars of this tortuously slow moving narrative are the painter Zurban and Romanesque architecture. He drops and picks up these topics at random, throughout the book, and prattles on about them as if he is possessed with a reoccurring fever. He also slathers his book with an impressive amount of trite clichés about Spain, Spain the land of contrasts, Castille La Mancha the land of desolate panoramas, etc. He goes on ad nauseum. He also plays a little fast and loose with the few historical facts he deigns to use. He states that the aqueduct in Segovia was used until 1974; according to Segovia's municipal web site it is still in use. He states that Pizzaro left from Extremadura with an invasion force for Peru; Pizzaro left from Central America where he had been established for some years. Obviously no fact checker touched this book before publication. There are many wonderful books about Spain. This isn't one of them.
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on December 13, 1996
Cees Nooteboom is a well-known Dutch novelist and travel-author.
Spain is his favourite country (like mine), he lives partly on
the Spanish island Menorca. This book of essays was published in
Dutch in 1992 and includes articles written between 1979 and 1991.
Nooteboom is a traveller who has a great interest in the history of
a country : i.e. in the of case Spain the historical relations between
christians, jews and moors. He also has a particalur interest
in medieval (roman) architecture. His 'route' is somewhat unsystematic :
he does not follow one road, but his travels are full of 'detours'
(time and again he is attracted by unwellknown placenames). Nooteboom
certainly doesn't limit himself to the typical must-sights'.
Sometimes Nooteboom seems to be travelling more in the past than in the present,
but his comments on the places he visits are always personal, original,(he avoids 'clichés')
proving a deep insight in the roots of Spanish culture. Therefore
"The roads to Santiago" is not an easy travel-guide but rather an
interesting book to take with you when touring through this country :
it's revelation to visit places and read Nooteboom's comments at the
same time.
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on August 28, 2002
first of all, cees nooteboom is a shining oasis in the arid intellectual desert of contemporary travel writing, and secondly, you should let go of everything that makes you unhappy, and set sail tomorrow.
the sheer profundity and wit of nooteboom's observations left me, for one, in like total dumbstruck awe, and his seemingly divine ability to translate the most visceral of emotions into words (a medium of communication i had always, up till now, considered inferior) made me feel a little bit the same way i felt the first time i went skydiving. folks, this here is a man who knows how to travel, as well as being a freakin miracle of a writer--and anyone who is capable of firing a sincere philosophic-type synapse will LOVE HIM. also read "the following story," all you existential types out there--he's like a dreamy, colorful Camus, and his prose will make your eyes feel clean for the first time in years.
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on October 28, 2003
This is a spectacular book, written by the best kind of travel writer. Mr. Nooteboom's passion for Spain, Spanish art, and Spanish architecture is infectious. I did the pilgrimage to Santiago in September of 2003, and understanding the Camino in the larger context of Spanish history (which Mr. Nooteboom limns so admirably) was invaluable. I don't believe I would have looked for, much less appreciated the Romanesque architecture I saw along the way. Coincidentally, his love of the great Spanish painters Zurbaran and Velazquez inspired me to visit New York for the Velazquez to Manet exhibit. I consider this one of the essential books to read before you set out for Santiago de Compostela. Guide books will get you from A to B. This book will help you understand the importance of A, B, and all the points in between.
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on March 7, 1999
Very interesting view of selected Spanish history and culture. Superbly written. I have been reading lots of books from Spain and about Spain in the last 10 years, but this is certainly one of the best.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2001
Am still trying to finish this book! Compared to some of the others on the subject, it's a hard read. I'll probably sell it.
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