Friday, February 12, 2010

5. The Alhambra by Washington Irving

Though I began before my own trip to Granada, I just now finished reading Irving's collection of observations and legends associated with the Alhambra. I found much of it amusing, though I think I find it more difficult to read online. It strains my eyes and obliges me to stop earlier than I otherwise would and wait longer periods between readings. There is no help for it though. It's too convenient and travel wise.

Irving describes his journey to Granada, his miraculous invitation to stay there in, his wanderings, the lowly inhabitants of the palace and the town, and records the tales related to him of legends, mysteries and magical happenings that occurred in the Alhambra. Irving brings the place into a dreamy life and manages to make his stay there sound almost as romantic as the lives of its more famous inhabitants, the Moorish royalty. When I went to the Alhambra, I searched for the places of which Irving had spoken, and saw some of them, the Court of Lions for example, though I wondered where the garden of Lindaraxa was and which was the princesses' tower. The real value of the place, though, is in the stories.

Irving's visit may sound better than mine, but had I stayed as long as he did, I'm sure I could have waxed just as poetic. Nevermind that I would have to stay at an expensive hotel, whereas he got free rooms in the dilapidated palace. The place and time of legend and romance is always the imagination, and so Irving's Alhambra is almost more essential than the place itself.

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