Friday, August 11, 2006

The Three Cornered Hat

Book Number 7: The Three Cornered Hat, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón
Country: Spain

First published in 1874, the cover of this little book promised me 'a hilarious tale of lust, intrigue and corruption...one of the best loved Spanish novels of all time'. It certainly delivered! It is a classic tale - a great beauty married to an ugly man, a magistrate (whose badge of office is the three cornered hat he wears) who desires the beautiful woman for himself, and the lengths he goes to in order to arrange a union with her. Predictably, nothing is quite what it seems, and chaos ensues. It actually reminded me a little of Chaucer - the same bawdy humour, the way the story is framed, with its origins in spoken word (this story purports to originally have been a ballad, and claims to have made young women blush), and the enduring popularity.

This short but sweet fable has spawned at least two films, as well as a ballet, which Dalí designed a set for, and for which Picasso also created 31 colour plates (see the curtain he designed here). The Three Cornered Hat really does pervade Spanish culture - it's only a short book, but massive fun to read, plus you'll gain an insight into something Spaniards treasure.

2 comments:

booklogged said...

Sounds good. Will add it to my list.

litlove said...

How are you picking these books? Only I don't know much about Spanish literature, but might have been tempted to read Cervantes or some such first. Do you follow people's recommendations? Or do you have your own method of selection?