Learning from the past so as not to make the same mistakes is the great pending issue for the Spanish, who have taken to the letter the idea of always stumbling on the same stone. «We Spaniards are especially incapable of learning from the past. And this is because we do not value culture and history, that we do not value learning, intellectuality. I do not want to say that it is an uneducated country, but rather that here the national referents are the politicians or the rich, not the intellectuals. We are a country that repeats the same mistakes,” recalls Isabel San Sebastián, novelist, journalist and ABC columnist on the common thread of the V Week of Historical Novels of Pozuelo de Alarcónwhich every year brings together hundreds of people in the Madrid city hungry to learn about the history of Spain without the usual poison.
This year’s edition is held from February 6 to 10, every afternoon from 7:00 p.m. in the MIRA Theater, with capacity for 700 people. The subtitle of this edition is ‘Teachings of the history of Spain’ and is focused on the many lessons hidden in a past so overwhelming that it holds all the answers to possible problems. «Union makes us strong and division weakens us. And that is a lesson that has been repeated over and over again in history since the Reconquest. As long as Christianity was united, it managed to move towards the recovery of what Visigothic Spain had been and when it fragmented, what was united was the emirate or the caliphate”, says San Sebastián, who opens the conference with his conference ‘La union makes us strong, division is lethal’.
A conference that swims through the eight centuries of the Reconquista and reflects on the recurring Christian division. «History shows that there are two fundamental requirements to overcome the so cainita tendency of the Spaniards. A common project that is attractive or necessary enough, and second, a strong, capable and honest leadership. And this has not happened very often in the history of Spain”, points out the writer, who lists a handful of moments, such as Spain’s entry into the EU or the rejection of ETA terrorism, where the country seemed invincibly united.
In this edition organized by the Writers with History Association and by the Pozuelo de Alarcón town hall, writers also participate Antonio Perez Henares, José Calvo Poyato, Inocencio Arias and the painter Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau. After the opening ceremony in San Sebastián, Tuesday is the turn of ‘When Spain replicated in America’, by Pérez Henares. A particular and scholarly reflection on how Spain, from the very beginning, used the discovery, conquest, and Hispanic domination in America to replicate itself. “Now that there are so many reproaches on the part of certain little characters about what Spain did, we must say that what Spain did was to do the same thing that was done on the Peninsula, since America was never a colony,” says San Sebastián.
The writer and diplomat Inocencio Arias will speak on Wednesday about ‘Spain and America. From King to citizen’, a journey through the intimate relations between the US and the Spanish Monarchy. While in Thursday’s session, José Calvo Poyato will expose ‘The fiasco of the first Republic’, about a very hectic period in history where the differences between the Republicans themselves destroyed the political Eden from within.
The cycle will conclude on Friday with a conversation between San Sebastián, Pérez Henares and Ferrer Dalmau about his pictorial work and the most outstanding episodes in the history of Spain. The selection of paintings, approximately twenty, ranges from ‘Covadonga’, just out of the workshop, to ‘La Carga de la Alcántara’, passing through the work ‘Primus Circumdedisti Me’ (you were the first to turn me around), dedicated to to honor the feat of Juan Sebastian Elcano. «People are tired of being told bad things about their history. There are many people fed up with having to be ashamed of their past and who want to be told episodes in a way that they can, if not feel proud, which I certainly feel very proud of, at least reconcile and deny that black version that they have given us. painted”, defends San Sebastián about this vision without myths or clichés of history.
The last day of the V Pozuelo de Alarcón Historical Novel Week is also the occasion to honor the winner of the literary contest that accompanies the event every year. The winner of this year, fourth edition of the award, has been Jose Manuel Sala Marti for his work ‘The captives of Castilnovo’, edited by HRM Ediciones, “an emotional novel that is absolutely respectful of history, captivating from the first page. Extraordinarily documented and wonderfully written, it uses a very careful and unusually rich language, which, together with the meticulous description of landscapes, cities, palaces and galleys, transports the reader to the 16th century Mediterranean and the fascinating world of tercios», in words of the jury members. The historical theme is the capture of Castilnovo by Barbarossa the corsair in 1538, where a heroic defense led by a Spanish third took place.