The history of Spain as a crossroads. Events that have taken place in the Peninsula that have influenced the world, or international events that were replicated here. That is the spirit that presides over the publication of World History of Spain (Editorial Destino), presented Thursday by the director of this work, Xosé M. Núñez Seixas, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Santiago de Compostela. Seixas, helped by five coordinators, has commissioned 111 historians, about fifteen of them foreigners, who, from a relevant date, explain in 127 brief episodes, about 1,600 words each, the evolution of the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula . From the jaw found in the Sima del elefante, in the archaeological site of Atapuerca, which is 1.2 million years old, until the last regional elections in Catalonia, on December 21, 2017.
That last chapter, written by the philosopher Josep Ramoneda, has the Beckettian title of Waiting for Europe: the last cycle of the Catalan independence movement. In it, Ramoneda says that the situation "is in a draw," says Seixas. "Neither the State has been able to impose itself completely with the law, nor have the independence activists achieved their objective, among other reasons, because there are no international powers that support them." Along with Ramoneda, there are reputed authors such as Isabel Burdiel, José Álvarez Junco, Santos Juliá, Isabel Sanz Ayán and Jordi Amat, said Seixas.
Looking back, Seixas says that perhaps the most appropriate title for the work "would have been History of Spain," because "first arises as a geographical concept, it is a Roman province, and later it is an ethereal definition because it is very plural. .. " Asked if the past should be an unfortunate history, as the vision ninety-eight, or if it is glorious, as proclaimed the Franco, the director of this study prefers not to go to extremes. "We have reasons for both visions, like all countries, I think Spain has not been so different from the others, as was said at the time."
The book, "whose goal is that anyone can read it," goes through the story with chapters that are sometimes titled with "intentional provocation", such as Viriato and the Far West of Rome: from collision to integration; or The day that Moratín saw the sea for the first time. "You always explain why." In this case, the playwright, visiting in prerevolutionary France, "used the metaphor of the sea in a letter written to his brother" to describe the environment he was living and that was so far from the Spanish intelligentsia.
There are also passages that more than one will be shocking for its inclusion, as the adventures of Faustino Chacón the Incombustible, a rogue who boasted of being invulnerable to fire, as witnessed by his cronies, which led him to be studied in France , in 1803, until science discovered that he was a liar. An anecdote for, pulling the thread, telling what the Century of Lights entailed and the love for the scientific and rational method. "It's about looking at great events with another perspective," says Seixas. The historian himself was surprised by some proposals from his coordinators: 1622. The great year of the Spanish saints. "Four canonizations in 12 months that, then, were like Michelin stars for restaurants. "
The person in charge of this edition is aware that "it is not a story to use" and that "key dates are missing" that can raise suspicions. "It is not 1931", the proclamation of the Second Republic, "because it is specifically a Spanish event", but 1932, with The divorce arrives in Spain, because of the advance of this law worldwide. "It is not 1936 [el año del intento golpista y el comienzo de la Guerra Civil], but there is the conflict seen from the Guernica, in 1937, turned into a universal symbol. "From 1955, the wedding of the bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín and the Italian film star Lucía Bosé stood out, and the most famous right-hander of that time became a friend of great international writers and artists. It implied a showcase for Franco's regime, pointing to the 1968 episode, Massiel triumphs in Eurovision. "We try to give a vision of normality while the police repressed the student movement," explains the author of the text, Javier Muñoz Soro.
Also, there is room for the great Spanish sports success, the victory in the 2010 World Cup, in South Africa. The triumph of La Roja led to "an unprecedented Spanish patriotic exaltation in a country traditionally characterized by its complex relationship with national identities," writes Professor Alejandro Quiroga.
Finally, Seixas recalled some periods in which it was more difficult to find national episodes that could be imbricated in the world. "In the nineteenth century, between 1840 and 1860, Spain hardly participates in international politics", although probably the "most introspective moment is between 1945 and 1960".