The beaches of Spain’s Costa Blanca are more than mere pretty spots for sun tanning; over the years they’ve served as inspiration for writers who were born there. Seaside towns nestled between the mountains and the ocean have a special kind of enrapturing beauty, and every pavement café and garden path is pervaded by nature, which tends to inspires people.
So in between your cabaret and flamenco shows, spare a moment to get to know the writers that grew up in Alicante:
Poetry: Miguel Hernández
Growing up in poverty, Miguel Hernández was born in Orihuela in Alicante, and had very little formal education. Despite that, he published his first book of poetry in 1933 at the age of 23. He was jailed for his anti-fascist sympathies, however, and died of tuberculosis in 1942. He is said to have scrawled his poetry on the walls of the hospital: “Goodbye, brothers, comrades, friends: let me take my leave of the sun and the fields”.
Novels: Gabriel Miró
Miró was a prolific fiction and non-fiction writer who lived from 1879 to 1930. Unusually, he was critical of religion and questioned the friction between tradition and progress in Spain, presenting what many believe to be a meditation about time. Our Father, Saint Daniel (1921) and The Leprous Bishop (1926) are critical of religious customs, while the non-fiction Figures of the Passion of Our Lord (1916) describes living in Alicante through Sigüenza, Miró’s alter ego.
By Miró: “My city is pierced through and through by the Mediterranean”.
Plays: Carlos Arniches
Another prolific writer, Arniches produced a body of work that affected the entire tradition of theatre in the early twentieth century. Working in a style of género chico (short, light plays set to music) many of Arniches’s plays used colloquial language, song, dance and music. The plays are often set in Madrid as Arniches moved there from Alicante in his teens to pursue a writing career. Miss Trevelez (1936) is generally considered to be his best-known play.
Quote from the play: “My god Picavea! What’s the joke?”
Classics: Miguel de Cervantes
Not strictly from Alicante, de Cervantes was born outside Madrid in 1547 and moved from town to town with his family during his childhood. The reason we remember this man who lived more than 450 years ago is because of his ‘mangum opus’, which still stacks the shelves in book shops around the world. It’s a comedy about a man called Alonso Quijano who reads too many books about chivalry, and his long-winded quest to revive courtliness under the eponymous name of Don Quixote!
Fun fact: Don Quixote is such a classic character that his name has entered the English language; if you are a hopeless idealist, you might call yourself “quixotic“.