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Monday, July 31, 2006

Pio Baroja and other minor heroes

I wonder why it is that Basque novelists haven't managed to penetrate the mainstream. I mean, what's more interesting than reading about pessimistic Euskaldun farmers? Or maybe it's the pervasive egoism, the exaggeration of the individual, that Americans and English find so hard to stomach (go figure). In any case no one likes to admit Hemingway's debt to Baroja (probably not even Ernest himself), and as for Unamuno...well. The French like to think they invented existentialism, don't they?

For my part, I have no use for nihilistic existentialists, as Adrian Mole has it. However, I will continue to celebrate the Gascognes for their culinary contributions, namely chorizo and gateau Basque. Gateau Basque is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

I think the general Basque attitude can be discovered by taking a look at the sports in which these fine people excel: football, rugby, jai-alai. In other words, athleticism with balls.

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