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My epitaph? “He tried to do an honest job”
27.02.10 - 22:34 -

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Ian Gibson: «I could manage without Granada, but not without Madrid»
Ian Gibson, born in Dublin in 1939, is a historian, and author of numerous biographies and books on Spanish history, including a controversial (it was researched and written during the dictator Franco’s lifetime) investigation into the assassination in Granada of Federico García Lorca. Gibson holds the Andalusian Gold Medal, awarded for outstanding contributions to areas of life such as the Arts, Sciences etc., which shows, he says, that his work is highly regarded by somebody in Andalucía, although the medal itself is not of gold but “of a more modest substance”. He was in Malaga recently to give a talk about the search for Lorca’s grave, delivering a plea for Spain to find out where Lorca’s remains lie and what really happened to the poet and dramatist in his final hours.
1’ You have been described in the Spanish press as one of a group of three great British hispanists. What do you say about that?
If the Spanish press wants to include me with Hugh Thomas and Paul Preston “as one of a group of British hispanists” that’s fine by me, although I am neither British nor any longer, strictly speaking, a hispanist since I now have Spanish nationality, and to be a hispanist you need to be a foreigner!
2’ Does a major literary figure belong more to his family or to the nation?
If you are alluding to Lorca, my answer is that he belongs to both. He was assassinated for being on the side of the Republic, he is the most famous and admired Spanish poet and dramatist of all time and, in my view, the State itself should search for his remains.
3’ Was Spain a better place prior to 1492?
Spain was certainly a very interesting place indeed prior to 1492, a mixture of cultures unique in the world, something the Spanish Right refuses to admit.
4’ Would you ‘weep like a woman’ if you had to leave Spain?
If I had to leave Spain I imagine that I would weep, although not for the same reasons as Boabdil. That is, I could manage without Granada but not without Madrid.
5’ Why don’t the Spanish read as much as, say, the Irish?
Well, they have a better climate which keeps them out of doors much more for a start. And then the Franco régime hardly encouraged them to get their heads down.
6’ What was the last book you couldn’t put down?
I have very little time to read outside the field of my current work but I try to dip into a novel every night before dropping off. The last one that really gripped me was Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’, which I thought was amazing.
7’ Whose biography would you like to write? I am currently writing Luis Buñuel’s, which it what I most want to do in the world.
8’Does Granada still have, as Lorca put it, “la peor burguesía de España” (“the worst bourgeoisie in Spain”)?
Granada is still a very right-wing place. Proof? The statue to José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Spanish Fascist Party, the Falange, is still in place.
9’ Are you a romantic?
Yes, I am a romantic, incurably so, God help me.
10’ What would you like your epitaph to say?
My epitaph? “He tried to do an honest job”.
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