Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938. In 1970 he moved to the United States to become chief art critic for Time, a position he held until 2001. His books include The Shock of the New, The Fatal Shore, Nothing if Not Critical, The Culture of Complaint, Barcelona, Goya, Things I Didn't Know, and Rome. He is a New York Public Library Literary Lion, and was the recipient of a number of literary awards and prizes, including two Frank Jewett-Mather Awards. He is widely held as the most respected art critic of our time.
YA-- The throbbing beat of flamenco guitars and the clicking of castanets resound as readers peruse the pages of this epic history. Founded as an encampment by Roman invaders around 210 B.C. , Barcelona passed through centuries of strife until it reached its ``Golden Age'' between the years 1850 and 1925; it is on this era that Hughes focuses. Aficianados of his descriptive, colorful prose style from such bestsellers as The Fatal Shore (Random, 1988) and The Shock of the New (McGraw, 1981) will not be disappointed with this work, and students of architecture will be especially pleased with the author's detailed comparisons of the city's varied structural styles. A must book for students of modern Spanish or European history and culture.-- Richard Lisker, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
"Confirms . . . Mr. Hughes's authority as a first-rate chronicler
and historian. The book is destined to become, like Forster's
Alexandria and Mary McCarthy's Venice Observed, a
classic." -The New York Times Book Review
"Authoritative, carefully researched, and full of insights into the city's great heritage . . . his judgments are full of tolerant and good-humored fascination. . . . There is no single volume in either Catalan or Spanish that approaches this book in scope or detail...a superb achievement and a great pleasure to read." -The Washington Post Book World
"Brilliant...an extraordinary book that combines history, criticism of the arts and architecture, and a profound sympathy for the moral essence of a people." -Newsday
The acclaimed author of The Fatal Shore ( LJ 11/1/86) and The Shock of the New ( LJ 2/15/81) brings to life that ``great enchantress'' of the Mediterranean with the same panache and elegant prose readers have come to expect. Barcelona's literature, painting, complex politics, vivid personalities, and cunning entrepreneurship through 1500 years are ingeniously interwoven. The result is a brilliant tapestry keyed to the city's architecture from its medieval Gothic splendors to Antoni Gaudi's dominating ``delayed baroque'' style and the present transformation associated with the forthcoming Olympic Games. Hughes's lengthy and thoroughly researched narrative lucidly delineates those historical factors generating the intense cultural nationalism of Spain's Catalonia and its great metropolis. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. History Book Club and Quality Paperback alternates; previewed in Pre pub Alert, LJ 10/1/91.-- William F. Young, SUNY at Albany Lib.
This historical-cultural treatise on the Catalan capital arrives in time to prime tourists for the 1992 Olympics--although the city's parking problems will almost certainly not be solved by then. An observant and penetrating writer, Hughes, art critic for Time , conveys an exciting sense that he is reserving yet more opinions than are unleashed. He records and comments on the various myths of catalanisme , noting that Barcelona's reputation for dissidence should not be mistaken for leftism; rather, it reflects the indelibly bourgeois city's unquiet alienation from the dominant Castilian state. But even if Hughes served up history less capably, it would be hard to fumble with a subject so abundantly stocked with anecdotal plums. The author is very well versed in the general domain of the arts and letters; he is at his best, however, discussing architecture. Throughout the architectural history of Barcelona, authentic cultural expression faces off with a philistine instinct for ``restoration,'' and Hughes pointedly communicates his anguish over it. In all, the sense that after 2000 years Barcelona's character is still forming gives the work a special impact. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)