"Tales of the Alhambra," which is Washington Irving's dreamlike description of Spain's Granada and the beautiful Moorish castle, remains one of the most entertaining travelogues ever written. Washington Irving's narrative is a heady mix of fact, myth, and depictions of secret chambers, desperate battles, imprisoned princesses, palace ghosts, and fragrant gardens, described in a wistful and dreamlike eloquence. Washington Irving, who also penned "Rip Van Winkle" And "Sleepy Hollow," penned "Tales of the Alhambra" during a stay at the legendary Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The Alhambra is a combination fort, palace, and gardens dating from the 13th century, filled with fantastic Arabic architecture (ornate plasterwork, ceramic tiles, sculpted marble fountains and archways), and plenty of room for imagining the days of its former greatness, which Washington Irving brings to life most memorably. In "Tales of the Alhambra," Washington Irving seamlessly winds legend, history, and a Spanish travelogue of sorts together. Even though the book is over 170 years old, it seems as if it was written yesterday. There are tales of princes, genies, lost and found loves, enchanted treasures, battles, hellish headless horses, and commentary on the Spanish landscape and nature of the Spaniards that he lives with. Full of bewitching music, the smell of roses and exotic perfumes, fiery sunsets, and the ghosts of the past, "Tales of the Alhambra" is a sensory treat as well. If you plan on visiting the Alhambra, read Washington Irving's book first--it will definitely enhance your experience. If you've already visited, this makes a priceless souvenir, bringing to life once more the stately halls and fragrant gardens of the Alhambra.
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WASHINGTON IRVING (1783-1859) was born in New York and studied law; on account of his poor health he went to Europe in 1804. He visited Rome, Paris, the Netherlands and London, and in 1806 returned to New York where he was admitted to the bar. His first writing was in Salmagundi (1807), a semi-monthly sheet in imitation of the Spectator which ran for twenty numbers. His first work, A History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809), was a good-natured burlesque upon the old Dutch settlers of Manhattan Island.From AudioFile:
Written in 1831, this classic weaves timeless tales of intrigue, romance, greed, and hidden treasure amid the grandeur of the Alhambra. The listener's ear must become attuned to the historical language and setting, but this adjustment proves worthwhile. The ancient tales describe palace gardens, towers, subterranean prisons, and escape routes across mountains. Interestingly, the characters give present-day listeners a fresh perspective of the tensions between the Christian and Islamic traditions, and the ties to modern-day events are dramatic. Ralph Cosham gives an excellent even-toned reading with inflections of Spanish and Arabic that add to the stories. Spanish guitar music provides both transitional moments and ambience. L.D.H. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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