Barcelona
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Barcelona

By (author) Robert Hughes

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Focusing on the architectural foundations of this extraordinary city, Robert Hughes' account of Barcelona's growth in relation to the region of Catalunya also features political, economic and military drama.

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  • Paperback | 688 pages
  • 124 x 198 x 42mm | 498.96g
  • 25 Jan 2001
  • VINTAGE
  • The Harvill Press
  • London
  • English
  • 40 b&w photographs
  • 1860468241
  • 9781860468247
  • 51,205

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Author Information

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938. Since 1970 he has lived and worked in the United States, where he has been Time magazine's art critic for more than twenty-five years. He is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes for his work, including one from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Age Book of the Year Award for The Fatal Shore. Robert Hughes died in August 2012.

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Review quote

"Nobody has ever represented [Barcelona's] character more powerfully, or illustrated its claims to self-destiny more persuasively, than has Robert Hughes in this monumental work" -- Jan Morris Los Angeles Times "Whether untangling the unlikely legends of Wilfred the Hairy or tangling with the likes of Antoni Gaudi, Hughes has shaped Catalan art, architecture and politics into the ultimate guidebooks" -- David Newnham Guardian "A wonderful book, by far the best yet to have appeared in the current flood of books on Spain - and one that fills a genuine gap" -- Martin Gayford Sunday Telegraph "Barcelona is unlikely to be rewarded with a better history than this. Robert Hughes is a master of the big canvas, scooping up the detail of social, economic, political and artistic life and producing images of captivating richness" Sunday Times

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Review text

After a rousing introduction that touches on the Spanish Civil War and Miro, Gaudi, and the Barcelonese mania for design and its folk-pride in "seny" (well-proportioned common sense), coexisting with its "tradition of intense, wrenching civic change, of long-shot gambles and risky endeavors," Hughes plunges into the history of the city and of Catalunya entire - and is all but lost in its swamp thereafter. Understandably wishing to replicate his deserved success with The Fatal Shore (1986), Hughes takes Barcelona chronologically. But where the Australian epic of the earlier book was one of remade identities and turbulent national narration, Hughes here is faced with more frozen layers of culture and provincial self-regard. He goes at it painstakingly - all the names and dates are here, from the Romans onward - yet the result is deprived of Hughes's signature clash and vector. There are fine historical cameos - ever hear of Narcis Monturiol and his pioneering submarines, proof of Barcelona's helpless but also wonderful addiction to modernity? - but Hughes also must address himself to literature (the Catalan language being so important a determinant to the culture), and when he does this he seems to lose the confidently acerbic snap that his visual-art and architecture prose has ("The language of L'Atlantida is rich, sonorous, imbued not only with rhetorical grandeur but with intimate precision of observation and feeling"). The Gaudi section, which is very good, comes only at a very long book's end, by which time you are weary, and less involved than its great subject merits. (Kirkus Reviews)

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