Introduction to the 3rd Edition of The A to Z of Spanish Culture

The third edition of The A to Z of Spanish Culture is now out, as Kindle, e-book and paperback. You can find out how the book has been updated in this post. If you purchased the previous edition and would like the updated sections, please comment in this blog (all comments need to be approved first, so I won’t publish them) and let me know. I will send you a PDF will the updates.

Many thanks again to Paul Read for his contribution. There’s no way this update would have happened otherwise. You can listen to Paul and Pilar talk about the update here:

Here’s the introduction to the third edition:

The A to Z of Spanish Culture. Updated Third EditionWhen I originally wrote ‘The A to Z of Spanish Culture’, I was hoping to sell a few books and make enough money to cover the costs of book formatting and cover design. So I was very pleased with how well the book was received by those with an interest in Spain and to my surprise, my little book about my country of origin made the recommended reading lists of academic programmes in both schools and universities.

An A-level Spanish teacher called Cristina told me that she recommends the book to the students in her London school precisely because it is such a condensed read. “Once they’ve read the book, they can identify which aspects of Spanish history and culture interests them most, and they can go and study those topics in depth.”
When I first found out how the book was being used, I considered updating it but felt too removed from the country to be able to do so. I’d also stopped publishing the ‘Spain Uncovered’ podcast, so I had little motivation to catch up with and share what had gone on in Spain. But when last year a generous reviewer pointed out that “An update to 2017 would be great as a lot has happened there,” I thought, “Right, now is the time to do this.”
I’d written ‘The A to Z’ to show how much Spanish society had evolved during the 1980s, 90s and first decade of the 21st Century. I thought the country had evolved and changed massively during that time. What I didn’t expect was there would still be more twists and turns on their way.

Introducing Paul Read
In the first edition of ‘The A to Z’, I said everything I had to say about Spain. I’ve now been away from the country for more than 25 years and I don’t stay much up to date with what’s going on there. This means I’m not the best person to update this book, so I reached out to the only other writer who I knew would enjoy putting down some brief words about those aspects of Spanish society and politics that had undergone the most significant changes since the last edition of the book.

Luckily, in between his own projects (which mainly involve teaching TaiChi online), Paul Read aka “Gazpacho Monk” accepted to take on the task of writing a few paragraphs to bring this ‘A to Z’ up to date.

So, what’s new then?

– There is a new, M is for Más Movidas chapter which summarises the recent change in Spain’s political landscape, as well as the rising number of corruption cases. Paul has done a brilliant job of explaining some very complex court cases, some of which are still ongoing (which means we had to tread carefully when laying them out in front of you).

– Speaking of corruption, I’ve expanded the chapter on C is for Corona to include the recent scandal involving members of the Spanish Royal Family using some of Paul’s notes.

– The chapter Ñ is for Ñ has been expanded to include the current situation in Cataluña. In the original chapter, I didn’t go into the different nationalist movements in much depth. That was because I have never had much of an identity as a Spaniard, and so I’ve never empathised with those holding strong nationalistic views. Even though I’ve been aware of the quest for independence from both Basque and Catalans all my life, I never took much interest. However, at this point in time, to have a book about Spanish culture that didn’t cover the Catalan movement in some depth would be to miss out a very important moment in contemporary history.

– In the new section When Ñ Becomes NY, I have left Paul’s words almost intact. He’s always had an interest in the history of Cataluña (which is at the centre of his book ‘Forgotten Stories From Spain: 1984 and The Spanish Civil War’) and once again, he’s been able to summarise clearly a very complex situation. Unfortunately, this chapter has an open ending, reflecting the unresolved status of this episode in history.

Paul has also provided me with bits and pieces to bring other chapters of the book up to date. I’ve peppered them around and adapted them to my own voice as much as possible.
Finally, in the interest of balancing his own opinions with facts (or at least with other opinions in the public arena), Paul has provided us with the long list of sources he used while writing the new pieces. You can find them all in the appendix Vocabulary and References.

I hope you enjoy this new edition, which, as well as facts and my own stories, now also includes someone else’s voice.

Pilar Orti
London, March 2018

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