Ian Gibson: A Brilliant Hispanist

11 mayo 2009 en 19:47 | Publicado en English | 2 comentarios

By  Javier Carrasco

Ian Gibson was born in Dublin (1939). He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and became a professor of Spanish literature at Belfast and London universities. In 1975 he decided to leave his academic life and became a writer, so he went to live to south France. He published his work The nationalistic repression of Granada in 1936 and the death of Federico García Lorca, which was banned in Spain under the dictator Franco. Later on, he moved to Madrid and began to write Lorca’s biography, the poet from Granada. He lived in a little village of Granada for thirteen years. In his own words, he describes the first time he met García Lorca in a second-hand bookshop in Dublin:

It all began with Lorca for me. When you’re 18 and you stumble across a poet who speaks to you in a very personal way… I was beginning to learn the language at the time. I was 17 or 18, in a second-hand bookshop somewhere in Dublin. I suddenly came across a copy of Lorca’s Gypsy Ballad. I didn’t know the language, but something in those ballads got through to me… Irish literature has never lost its contact with the earth and Lorca is very earthy. His earth was Andalusian, mine was Irish, but the similarity… something enabled me to get into it. That began and went on and I discovered more about the man, his assassination…”.

Together with Hugh Thomas and Paul Preston, he belongs to the British hispanist group devoted to the study of recent Spanish history, specially the Second Republic and the Spanish Civil War.

His book “Federico Garcia Lorca: A Life” won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was named “Best Book of 1989” by the New York Times and the Boston Globe.

He has also written books about the lives of the painter Salvador Dalí, The Shameful Live of Salvador Dalí, and Antonio Machado, Ligero de equipaje, and  about other writers such as Ruben Darío or Cela.

His first novel, “Viento del Sur” (Wind of the south, 2001), written in Spanish examines class, religion, family life, and public schools in British society through the fictitious autobiography of a character named John Hill, an English linguist and academic. It won favorable reviews in Spain.

Gibson has also worked in television programmes about his academic work in Spanish history, having served as historical consultant and even acting in one historical drama.

In 1984 he obtained the Spanish nationality and at present he lives in Madrid where he is preparing a biography about the Spanish film director Luis Buñuel. Fortunately, he feels Spain as his home better than any other country. Mr Gibson, thank you for your splendid books!


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