[The Critic] The Whig View of Spanish History
For left-wing author Giles Tremlett, concord is the telos of Spain’s history — on the left’s terms, that is.
España: a Brief History of Spain. By Giles Tremlett. Apollo; 320 pages; $29.99.
The introduction to España (2022) — an attempt at condensing all of Spain’s history into 36 vignettes the length of fairy tale chapters by columnist and historian Giles Tremlett — begins with a non sequitur the size of an Andalusian bullring. A longtime Madrid correspondent for The Economist and The Guardian, Tremlett is the author of a 2020 bestselling history of the International Brigades that rallied the republican forces during the country’s Civil War (1936–1939). In this introduction, he invokes the 2010 football World Cup final in Johannesburg as a snapshot of Spain’s troubled relationship to its own past. In the minutes prior to the game against Holland that Spain would go on to win, Dutch players were seen “shouting out the words” to the Wilhelmus, their country’s 1572 anthem commemorating William of Orange’s revolt against Spanish rule. Spain’s players, meanwhile, merely hummed to the wordless rhythm of theirs. Why such a contrast? In Tremlett’s words, “because Spaniards disagree so profoundly about their own history that they dare not put words into it”. Deductive fallacy, much?
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