Mis anotaciones: La muerte y la brújula (1942), de Jorge Luis Borges

This post is bilingual, scroll down to find the English language version

Editorial Bruguera, 1980. Col. Narradores de hoy. Formato: Rústica. Jorge Luis Borges Prosa Completa. Volumen 1. 448 páginas [401 – 411] ISBN (Tomo I): 84-02-06746-8.

La-muerte-y-la-brujula-borgesDescripción del libro: La muerte y la brújula es un relato policial breve del escritor y poeta argentino Jorge Luis Borges. Publicado originalmente en la revista Sur en mayo de 1942, se recopiló posteriormente en la colección Ficciones de 1944. El inspector Erik Lönnrot investiga una serie de crímenes que conforman una compleja trama que parece seguir un patrón cabalístico. La historia fue llevada al cine en la película estadounidense, rodada en México, Death and the Compass (1996), dirigida por el británico Alex Cox.

Mi opinión: Aunque escribí sobre La muerte y la brújula en una entrada anterior de este blog, honestamente, fue solo una mera referencia a esta breve relato que, en mi opinión, merece un análisis más detallado. Su importancia me surgió tras leer el capítulo dedicado a “Detection and Literary Fiction” de Laura Marcus en The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. Mi entrada sobre este último estará lista pronto. Pueden encontrar algunos spoilers en mi resumen, pero les sugiero que lean el cuento primero, si están interesados. Estoy seguro de que encontrarán una copia gratuita en Internet, ya sea en español o en inglés.

La muerte y la brújula gira en torno a una serie de asesinatos en una ciudad sin nombre, aunque hay indicios fundados de que la ciudad es Buenos Aires. El primer asesinato tuvo lugar en el Hotel du Nord el 3 de diciembre. La víctima fue el delegado de Podolsk al Tercer Congreso Talmúdico, doctor Marcelo Yarmolinsky. El comisario Treviranus y el inspector Lonnrot discutieron el tema con ecuanimidad. Treviranus opinaba que no había necesidad de investigar más.

“Todos sabemos que el Tetrarca de Galilea posee los mejores zafiros del mundo. Alguien, para robarlos, habrà penetrado aquí por error. Yarmolinsky se ha levantado; el ladrón ha tenido que matarlo. ¿Qué le parece?”
“Posible, pero no interesante”, respondió Lonnrot.

Sin embargo estaba claro para Lonnrot. Allí yacía muerto un rabino y prefería una explicación puramente rabínica. Su sospecha se confirmó cuando, uno de los agentes encontró una nota escrita a máquina con la siguiente frase: ‘La primera letra del Nombre se ha pronunciado.” Poco después, un periódico publicó que el investigador Erik Lonnrot se había dedicado a estudiar los nombres de Dios para dar con el nombre del asesino.

El segundo crimen ocurrió la noche del tres de enero, en el más desamparado y vacío de los huecos suburbios occidentales de la capital, en el umbral de una antigua pinturería. El muerto fue identificado como Daniel Simon Azevedo, el último representante de una generación de bandidos que sabía el manejo del puñal, pero no del revolver. Junto a él eran visibles las siguientes palabras en tiza: “La segunda letra del Nombre ha sido articulada.”

El tercer crimen ocurrió la noche del tres de febrero. Un hombre, que se identificó como Ginzberg o Ginsburg, llamó por teléfono para decir que, por una remuneración razonable, estaba en condiciones de ofrecer una explicación a las dos muertes anteriores. La policía pudo saber que la llamada venía de Liverpool House, una taberna en la Rue de Toulon. Una vez en la taberna, el comisario Treviranus descubre que la última persona que usó el teléfono fue un tal Gryphius, un inquilino que acababa de salir con hombres disfrazados de arlequines. Uno de ellos garabateó la siguiente sentencia en tiza junto con una figura obscena en una de las pizarras de la recova: “La última de las letras del Nombre ha sido articulada”.

Tras examinar la habitación ocupada por el citado Ginzberg/Ginsburg/Gryphius, Treviranus le muestra a Lonnrot un libro en latín con una frase subrayada cuya traducción viene a decir que el día hebreo empieza al anochecer y dura hasta el siguiente anochecer.

El primero de marzo, el comisario recibe un sobre sellado que contiene una carta, firmada por Baruj Spinoza, en la que se afirma que no habrá un cuarto crimen el tres de marzo. De hecho, la tienda de pinturas del Oeste, la Taberna de la Rue de Toulon y el Hotel du Nord eran los “vértices perfectos de un triángulo equilátero y místico”. Al día siguiente, Treviranus le muestra la carta a Lonnrot, quien le dice que esta carta le ha permitido resolver el enigma. Mañana viernes los criminales estarán en la cárcel; podemos dormir muy tranquilos.

Aunque esta narración puede calificarse de fantástica, claramente tiene la estructura de una historia policial clásica. Las dos tramas se refieren tanto al relato del crimen como al descubrimiento del responsable. Para mi gusto, es una verdadera joya de la novela policial que está a la altura de las mejores historias cortas de Borges. Borges utiliza dicha estructura para sorprender al lector y dar un nuevo giro a los mismos principios de la ficción policial. Y ese es precisamente el interés que, para mi gusto, tiene este cuento. Juzguen ustedes mismos y permítanme saber su opinión. Muy recomendable.

Para concluir, me gustaría señalar que Borges rinde homenaje a Chesterton cuando considera a Lonnrot de la estirpe de Auguste Dupin y parece claro que La muerte y la brújula (1942) guarda cierta similitud con el relato de Chesterton La forma equívoca (1911). Además, estoy bastante seguro de que el cuento de Borges sirvió de inspiración a El nombre de la rosa (1980) de Umberto Eco.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Jorge Luis Borges (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 24 de agosto de 1899 – Ginebra, Suiza, 14 de junio 1986), fue un poeta, ensayista y escritor argentino de cuentos cuyos trabajos se han convertido en clásicos de la literatura mundial del siglo XX. Después de 1961, cuando compartió junto con Samuel Beckett el Premio Formentor, los cuentos y poemas de Borges empezaron a ser reconocidos en todo el mundo. Hasta ese momento, Borges era poco conocido, incluso en su Buenos Aires natal. A su muerte, el mundo de pesadilla de sus “ficciones” se había comparado con el mundo de Franz Kafka y había sido elogiado por condensar el lenguaje común en su forma más permanente. Por su trabajo, la literatura latinoamericana pasó del ámbito académico al terreno de los lectores generalmente educados. Entre sus incursiones en el campo de la ficción policial se pueden mencionar, además de La muerte y la brújula, Seis problemas para don Isidro Parodi, escrito junto con Adolfo Bioy Casares.

Death and the Compass (original Spanish title: La muerte y la brújula) by Jorge Luis Borges

Book Description: Death and the Compass (original Spanish title: La muerte y la brújula) is a short detective story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. Originally published in the magazine Sur in May 1942, it was subsequently collected in the 1944 volume Ficciones. Detective Erik Lönnrot investigates a series of crimes that make up a complex web that seems to follow a Kabbalistic pattern. The story was taken to the cinema in the American film, shot in Mexico, Death and the Compass (1996), directed by the British Alex Cox.

My Take: Although I wrote about Death and the Compass in a previous post on this blog, honestly, it was just a mere reference to this short story that, in my view, deserves a more detailed analysis. Its relevance came to mind while reading the chapter dedicated to ‘Detection and Literary Fiction’ by Laura Marcus in The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. My post entry about the latter will be ready soon. You can find some spoilers in my summary, but I suggest you read the story first, if you’re interested. I’m sure you will find a free copy on the Internet, either in Spanish or in English.

Death and the Compass revolves around a series of murders in an unnamed city, although there are well-founded indications that the city is Buenos Aires. The first murder took place at Hotel du Nord on 3 December. The victim was the delegate from Podolsk to the Third Talmudic Congress, Doctor Marcel Yarmolinsky. Police superintended Treviranus and police inspector Lonnrot discussed the issue with equanimity. Treviranus was of the opinion that there was no need to investigate further.


“We all know that the Tetrarch of Galilee is the possessor of the finest sapphires in the world. Someone, intending to steal them, came in here by mistake. Yarmolinsky got up; the robber had to kill him. What do you think?”
“It’s possible, but not interesting,” Lonnrot answered.

However, it was clear to Lonnrot. There a rabbi lay dead and he preferred a purely rabbinical explanation. His suspicion was confirmed when one of the agents found a typed note with the following sentence: ‘The first letter of the Name has been spoken.’  Shortly after a newspaper published that the investigator Erik Lonnrot had devoted himself to studying the names of God in order to “come up with” the name of the assassin.

The second crime occurred on the night of the third of January, in the most deserted and empty corner of the capital’s western suburbs, on the threshold of an old paints shop. The dead man was identified as Daniel Simon Azevedo, the last of bandits who knew how to handle a dagger, but not a revolver. Next to him there was a message scrawled in chalk saying: ‘The second letter of the Name has been spoken.’

The third crime occurred on the night of the third of February. A man, who identified himself as Ginzberg or Ginsburg, telephoned to say that, for a reasonable price, he was in a position to offer an explanation to the two previous deaths. The police could learn that the call came from Liverpool House, a tavern on the Rue de Toulon. At the tavern, Treviranus discovers that the last person to use the phone was a certain Gryphius, a lodger who had just left with two men dressed as harlequins. One of them scrawled the following sentence in chalk along with an obscene figure on one of the slates at the entrance: ‘The last of the letters of the Name has been spoken.

After examining the room occupied by the aforementioned Ginzberg/Ginsburg/Gryphius, Treviranus shows Lonnrot a book in Latin with an underlined sentence whose translation comes to say that the Hebrew day begins at sundown and lasts until the following sundown.

On the first of March first, the police superintended receives a sealed envelope containing a letter, signed Baruj Spinoza, stating that there would be no fourth crime on the third of March. In fact the paints shop in the West, the Tavern on the Rue de Toulon and the Hotel du Nord were the “perfect vertices of an equilateral and mystic triangle”. The next day, Treviranus shows the letter to Lonnrot, who tells him that this letter has allowed him to solve the enigma. Tomorrow, Friday, the criminals will rest in jail; we can all sleep quietly.

Though this narration can be classified as fantastic, it clearly has the structure of a classic detective story. The two plots concern both the account of the crime and the detection of the perpetrator. For my taste it is a real gem of detective fiction that lives up to the best short stories by Borges. Borges uses the said structure to amaze the reader and give a new turn to the same own principles of detective fiction. And that is precisely the interest that, for my taste, has this short tale. Judge by yourselves, and let me know your opinion. Highly recommended. 

To conclude I would like to point out that Borges pays homage to Chesterton when he considers Lonnrot in the mould of Auguste Dupin and it seems clear that Death and the Compass (1942) bears some similarity to Chesterton’s story The Wrong Shape (1911). Besides, I’m quite sure that Borges short story served as inspiration to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (1980).

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the Author: Jorge Luis Borges (Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 24, 1899 – Geneva, Switzerland, June 14, 1986), was an Argentine poet, essayist and short-story writer whose works have become classics of 20th century world literature. After 1961, when he and Samuel Beckett shared the Formentor Prize, the stories and poems of Borges began to be increasingly acclaimed all over the world. Until then, Borges was little known, even in his native Buenos Aires. By the time of his death, the nightmare world of his “fictions” had come to be compared to the world of Franz Kafka and to be praised for condensing the common language into its most enduring form. Through his work, Latin American literature emerged from the academic realm into the field of generally educated readers. Among his incursions in the field of detective fiction it can be mentioned, besides Death and the Compass, Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi, written together with Adolfo Bioy Casares.

Mis anotaciones: La berlina de Prim (2012), de Ian Gibson

This post is bilingual, scroll down to find the English language version

Editorial Planeta, 2012. Formato: Versión Kindle. Tamaño del archivo: 770 KB. Longitud de impresión: 354 páginas. ASIN: B008CNK8GS. eISBN: 978-84-08-01328-0. Premio de Novela Fernando Lara 2012.

portada_la-berlina-de-prim_ian-gibson_201505211321Sinopsis: Principios de septiembre de 1873. La Primera República, con apenas nueve meses de vida, agoniza. El periodista Patrick Boyd llega a España con una misión: aclarar el asesinato, tres años antes, de su amigo el general Prim, presidente del Gobierno y el hombre más poderoso del país. Patrick, hijo ilegítimo de una joven andaluza y del irlandés Robert Boyd, fusilado en Málaga al lado de Torrijos y cincuenta compañeros, está decidido a descubrir quién o quiénes maquinaron el magnicidio que cambió el destino de España. Su trepidante búsqueda detectivesca, con epicentro en Madrid, lo lleva desde Sevilla a Francia, y termina otra vez por tierras andaluzas, en vísperas del golpe militar que acabará durante más de medio siglo con el sueño republicano.

Madrid-descubre-memoria-Prim-asesinado_EDIIMA20121227_0011_4Mi opinión: Para comenzar, una breve reseña de la historia de España. El 30 de diciembre de 1870, tres días después de un atentado que tuvo lugar en la calle del Turco (actual calle del Marqués de Cubas), el General Juan Prim y Prats, Presidente del Consejo de Ministros, fallece en Madrid como consecuencia de las lesiones recibidas. Aunque la causa de su muerte estuvo sujeta a todo tipo de rumores durante mucho tiempo, hoy se ha demostrado que murió de una infección de la sangre (septicemia). La autoría material del atentado, sujeta a una larga discusión durante años, también se ha probado en la actualidad. Lo que aún no sabemos es quién o quiénes fueron los verdaderos instigadores del mismo, aunque no por falta de candidatos, y su autoría intelectual sigue siendo objeto de todo tipo de especulaciones. En cualquier caso, el asesinato de Prim marcó el inicio del fin de la Constitución española de 1868, que puso fin a la monarquía absoluta y estableció por primera vez en España un marco de verdaderos principios democráticos y de derechos individuales, aunque reservados exclusivamente para los hombres.

La berlina de Prim es una novela policíaca cuya acción se desarrolla dentro de un contexto histórico muy específico. Está escrito en forma de una investigación periodística y con las características particulares de un libro de viajes. La acción se desarrolla en septiembre de 1873, solo nueve meses después de la proclamación de la Primera República Española y apenas trece meses antes del golpe de estado del general Pavía que puso fin a su existencia y al posterior pronunciamiento militar del general Martínez Campos a favor de la restauración en el trono de la monarquía borbónica en la persona de don Alfonso de Borbón, hijo de la reina Isabel II.

El protagonista de la novela, un personaje ficticio llamado Patrick Boyd, es el hijo ilegítimo de una joven andaluza y un irlandés de nombre Robert Boyd que, en la vida real, fue ejecutado por un pelotón de fusilamiento, junto con el general Torrijos y otros 47 compañeros, el 11 de diciembre de 1831 en Málaga, en la playa de San Andrés, por oponerse al régimen absolutista que reinaba en España en ese momento.

En definitiva, una novela histórica muy entretenida, recomendada tanto a los aficionados a la novela histórica como a la novela policiaca.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Sobre el autor: Ian Gibson (Dublín, 1939) tiene nacionalidad española desde 1984. Gibson obtuvo la licenciatura en Literatura Española y Francesa en el Trinity College de Dublín en 1960. Impartió clases de español en la Universidad Queen’s de Belfast. En 1968 pasó a la Universidad de Londres, en donde permaneció hasta 1975 en que  abandona la carrera universitaria para dedicarse exclusivamente a escribir.  Entre 1975-8 vive con su familia en el sur de Francia. En 1978 se establece definitivamente en España con el proyecto de escribir una biografía de Federico García Lorca. Entre sus números publicaciones se encuentran: La represión nacionalista de Granada en 1936 y la muerte de  Federico García Lorca, Paris, Ruedo ibérico, 1971; En busca de José Antonio, Barcelona, Planeta, 1980; Un irlandés en España, Barcelona, Planeta, 1981; La noche que mataron a Calvo Sotelo, Barcelona, Argos Vergara, 1982; Paracuellos, cómo fue, Barcelona, Argos Vergara, 1983; Federico García Lorca. I. De Fuente Vaqueros a Nueva York, Barcelona, Grijalbo, 1985;  España, Barcelona, Ediciones B, 1993; Lorca-Dalí. El amor que no pudo ser, Barcelona, Plaza y Janés,  1999; Yo, Rubén Darío, Madrid, Aguilar, 2002; Cela, el hombre que quiso ganar, Madrid, Aguilar, 2003; Ligero de equipaje. La vida de Antonio Machado, Madrid, Aguilar, 2006; Cuatro poetas en guerra, Barcelona, Planeta, 2007; Lorca y el mundo gay, Barcelona, Planeta, 2009; La berlina de Prim, Barcelona, Planeta, 2012; Luis Buñuel, la forja de un cineasta universal, 1900-1938, Madrid, Aguilar, 2013.

Planeta página de publicidad

Descargar gratis el primer capítulo de La berlina de Prim de Ian Gibson

Berlina Cupé del General Juan Prim y Prats 

Fusilamiento de Torrijos y sus compañeros en las playas de Málaga

La berlina de Prim (Prim’s Carriage), by Ian Gibson

Synopsis: September 1873. The First Republic is in its death throes after just nine months of rule. The journalist Patrick Boyd arrives in Spain with a mission: to investigate the murder of his friend General Prim, the President of the Government and the most powerful man in the country, three years before. Patrick, the illegitimate son of a young Andalusian woman and the Irishman Robert Boyd who was shot in Malaga next to Torrijos and fifty comrades, is determined to find out who plotted an assassination that changed the course of Spanish history. His gripping investigation will be based in Madrid but will also take him from Seville to France and end back on Andalusian land on the eve of the military coup that would end the Republican dream for over half a century.

My take: First of all a brief review of the history of Spain. On 30 December 1870, three days after a terrorist attack that took place at calle del Turco (present day calle del Marques de Cubas), General Juan Prim y Prats, President of the Council of Ministers, dies in Madrid as a result of the injuries received. Even though the cause of his death was subject to all kinds of rumours for a long time, today it has been proven that he died from blood infection (septicaemia). The material authorship of the attack, subject to a lengthy discussion for years, has also been proven nowadays. What we still don’t know is who or whom were the real instigators of the crime, though not for lack of candidates, and its intellectual authorship remains being subject of all kinds of speculations. In any case the assassination of Prim marked the beginning of the end of the 1868 Spanish Constitution, that put an end to the absolute monarchy and established for the first time in Spain a framework of true democratic principles and of individual rights although reserved exclusively for men.

La berlina de Prim is a detective novel whose action unfolds within a very specific historical context. It is written in the form of a journalistic investigation and with the particular features of a travel book. The action is set in September 1873, only nine months after the proclamation of the First Spanish Republic and barely thirteen months  prior to the coup d’état of General Pavía that put an end to its existence and the subsequent military pronouncement of General Martínez Campos in favour of the restoration in the throne of the Bourbon monarchy in the person of don Alfonso de Borbón, son of Queen Isabel II.

The protagonist of the novel, a fictitious character called Patrick Boyd, is the illegitimate son of a young woman from Andalusia and an Irishman by the name of Robert Boyd who, in real life, was executed by firing squad, together with General Torrijos and 47 other companions, on 11 December 1831 in Málaga, at playa de San Andrés, for opposing the absolutist regimen reigning in Spain at the time.

All in all, a highly entertaining historical novel recommended to aficionados alike of both historical and detective fiction.

My rating: A (I loved it)

About the Author: Ian Gibson, born in Dublin in 1939. He holds Spanish nationality since 1984. Graduated from Trinity College, Dublin(1960).  D. Litt. (Doctor in Litteris), honoris causa, Trinity College, Dublin (1992). From 1962-1965 Assistant Lecturer in the Spanish Department of  The Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.  From 1968  to 1975 teaches at University of London. In 1975  gives up his university career in order to write full-time. In 1978 moves permanently to Spain with the project of writing Federico Garcia Lorca’s biography. Major publications include: La represión nacionalista de Granada en 1936 y la muerte de Federico García Lorca, (Paris, Ruedo Ibérico, 1971); En busca de José Antonio ( Barcelona, Planeta, 1980);Un irlandés en España (Barcelona, Planeta, 1981); La noche que mataron a Calvo Sotelo (Barcelona, Argos Vergara, 1982); Paracuellos, cómo fue (Barcelona, Argos Vergara, 1983); Federico García Lorca. I.  De Fuente Vaqueros a Nueva York (Barcelona, Grijalbo, 1985); España (Barcelona, Ediciones B, 1993); Lorca-Dalí.  El amor que no pudo ser (Barcelona, Plaza y Janés, 1999); Yo, Rubén Darío (Madrid, Aguilar, 2003); Cela, el hombre que quiso ganar (Madrid, Aguilar, 2003); Ligero de equipaje.  La vida de Antonio Machado (Madrid, Aguilar, 2006) Cuatro poetas en guerra(Barcelona, Planeta, 2007); Lorca y el mundo gay (Barcelona, Planeta, 2009); La berlina de Prim (Barcelona, Planeta, 2012) and Luis Buñuel, la forja de un cineasta universal, 1900-1938, (Madrid, Aguilar, 2013).

Berlina Coupé belonging to General Juan Prim y Prats 

Execution of Torrijos and his Companions on the Beach at Málaga

Torrijos and Boyd

OT: The Last Romantic War

La Batalla de Wad-Rass (Episodio de la guerra de África)

The Hispano-Moroccan War, also known as the Spanish–Moroccan War, the First Moroccan War, the Tetuán War, or, in Spain, as the African War (Spanish: Guerra de África), was fought from Spain’s declaration of war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860. It began with a conflict over the borders of the Spanish city of Ceuta and was fought in northern Morocco. (From Wikipedia) The African War was probably the last romantic war of the 19th century.

The Spanish writer Pedro Antonio de Alarcón in his book Diary of a Witness: Diary of a Witness to the War in Africa (Spanish: Diario de un testigo de la guerra de Africa, 1839) provides us a first-hand account of the major events. Particularly interesting is the chapter dedicated to the Battle of Castillejos, fought on New Year’s Day, 1860, between the Spanish Army of Africa under Leopoldo O’Donnell and the Moroccan Army. Due to the merits contracted in this battle, General Prim, who was already Count of Reus, was granted the title of Marquis of Castillejos with Greatness of Spain. Alarcón describes like this the events that change the course of the battle, when the fate of the battle seemed to be leaning in favour of the enemy. 

The Count of Reus sees how the the Spanish flag, hoisted by the standard-bearer of Cordoba, waves before his eyes,  … The general’s face lights up with the fire of a sudden inspiration … Launchs himself over the flag: takes the flag in his hands; waves the flag around him, as if he wanted to identify himself with her, and guiding his horse towards the Moroccans and turning his head towards the battalions he left behind, he exclaims with a frightening accent:

– Soldiers! You can abandon those backpacks, which are yours; but you can not abandon this flag, which belongs to the motherland. I’m going to get into the enemy ranks myself with her  … Will you allow the standard of Spain to fall into the hands of the Moors? Will you let your general to die alone! Soldiers! … Long live the Queen! (My free translation)

On 6 December 1814 Juan Prim y Prats was born in the city of Reus. He was one of the most fascinating characters of the Spanish history. Forgotten by historians, in recent years he has returned to the media scene as a result of a controversial forensic investigation that seeks to clarify the causes of his death on 30 December 1870 as a result of the injuries he suffered three days before in an attack. Prim is the prototype par excellence of the romantic hero forged in the Carlist wars and the battles of the Spanish Army in North Africa. His curriculum vitae seems to be taken from an adventure novel rather than from real life: He was in possession of The Royal Military Order of Saint Ferdinand –Spain’s highest military award; Member of Parliament by Tarragona, Barcelona and Vich; President of the Council of Ministers; Minister of War; Captain General of the Armies; Marquis of Castillejos, Count of Reus and Viscount of Bruch; Captain General of Puerto Rico; Government Plenipotentiary in Mexico; Military Governor of Barcelona; banished in Oviedo; exiled in France, England and Italy; International Observer in the Crimean War; Liberal politician, he derived later towards more conservative positions; spy; diplomatic; head of a coup d’etat, conspirator, etc …

The Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny arrived in Morocco on February 12, 1860. The battle of Los Castillejos had taken place on January 1 of that same year. Like the battle of Tetuán – this was an event not directly witnessed by the painter. Even so, we know that once the hostilities ended and Fortuny returned to the Peninsula he decided to visit Los Castillejos, the place where the battle took place, to take notes and prepare the sketch that, once moved to canvas, should reflect the called “episode of the backpacks” starring Prim. Effectively, Fortuny made a pencil and gouache drawing on paper (Reus Municipal Museum, 43.5 x 57 cm, 1860). Here the general is represented on horseback on top of a hill, hoisting the flag of the No. 10 battalion Cordoba, the silhouette of the army stands out in the middle of white clouds that crown the top. Up to date it is the only pictorial representation that Fortuny made of the Castillejos battle.

The picture enclosed represents La Batalla de Wad-Rass (which took place on 23 March 1860) by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal ©Museo Nacional del Prado. Imagen autorizada para publicaciones sin fines de lucro, sitios web personales, blogs y medios sociales

OT: Mariano Fortuny (1838 – 1874) Spanish Painter

My recent reading of The Nail [in Spanish El Clavo, 1853] by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón has aroused my interest in reading Diary of a Witness to the African War [In Spanish: Diario de un testigo de la Guerra de Africa, 1859]. The work which gained him his literary recognition. But has also reminded me the works of another artist of the time, the renowned Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny who was also a chronicler of that war.

MARIANO_FORTUNY_-_La_Batalla_de_Tetuán_(Museo_Nacional_de_Arte_de_Cataluña,_1862-64._Óleo_sobre_lienzo,_300_x_972_cm)

Mariano Fortuny, in full Mariano José María Bernardo Fortuny y Marsal [known more simply as Marià Fortuny or Mariano Fortuny], (born June 11, 1838, Reus, Spain—died Nov. 21, 1874, Rome, Italy), Spanish painter whose vigorous technique and anecdotal themes won him a considerable audience in the mid-19th century. After four years at the Academy of Barcelona, Fortuny in 1858 won the Prix de Rome, which enabled him to complete his studies at Rome. In 1859 he was chosen by provincial authorities to go to Morocco to paint the scenes of the war between Spain and the Emperor Sultan of Morocco. He soon returned to Spain but spent all of his remaining years in Rome, except for a year in Paris (1869–70). In Paris he entered into business relations with the noted art dealer Goupil; their association brought him large sums for his paintings and an international reputation. Fortuny painted occasional large works, e.g., the huge “Battle of Tetuan,” based on an incident in the Moroccan campaign and a fine example of pictorial reportage, charged with action and energy. More characteristic, however, are his small genre paintings filled with fine detail, works that attempted to recapture the grace and charm of an imaginary 18th-century scene. (Source: Britannica)

The enclosed picture by Marià Fortuny i Marsal – La Batalla de Tetuán (Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, 1862-64. Óleo sobre lienzo, 300 x 972 cm) in the public domain.

My Film Notes: El Clavo (1944) directed by Rafael Gil

Cartel 40-El clavoES / 99 min / b&w /Compañía Industrial Film Español S.A. (CIFESA). Dir: Rafael Gil. Pro: Alfredo Matas Scr: Rafael Gil, Eduardo Marquina (dialogues), based on a short story by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. Cin: Alfredo Fraile. Mus: Juan Quintero . Cast: Amparo Rivelles, Rafael Durán, Juan Espantaleón, Milagros Leal, Joaquin Roa, Ramon Martori, Irene Caba Alba, Rafaela Satorrés, Manuel Arbó, Jesús Tordesillas, Adela González, José Franco, José Portés, Julio Infiesta, Felix Fernández, Pablo Muñiz, Enrique Herreros, José Ramín Giner, José María Lado, Pedro Mascaró, Camino Garrigó, Juan Calvo, Concha Fernández, Pablo Hidalgo, Juana Mansó, Alfonso de Córdoba, Manuel Requena, y Rafael Bardem. Synopsis: A rural magistrate tries to solve the mystery of a man’s death that turns to murder in the light of new events, while searching for his lost love, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who suddenly disappeared. Release dates: 5 October 1944 (Madrid); 30 June 1949 (US). IMDb Rating: 6.8.