Arturo Pérez-Reverte Reviews
Arturo Pérez-Reverte Jul 12, 2008
Arturo Pé-rez--Reverte lives near Madrid. Originally a war journalist, he now writes fiction -full--time. His novels The Flanders Panel, The Club Dumas, The Seville Communion, The Fencing Master, The Nautical Chart, and The Queen of the South have been translated into -twenty--eight languages and published in fifty countries. In 2002, he was elected to the Spanish Royal Academy.
On the writing of Captain Alatriste:
I have always been drawn to the dangers and fascinations of 17th century Spain, to its narrow and poorly lit alleyways, its taverns, its brothels and its gambling dens, a time when Madrid was at the heart of a Europe at war, and the capital of the greatest empire in the world. It was an arrogant and proud Spain in which often a man earned a living with his sword. Recreating that panorama in a series of novels was both a challenge and an entertaining labor. The series owes as much to history books and the events of the period as it does to the swashbuckling novels I loved as a child-Dumas, Feval, Sabatini, and many other writers to which the North American cinema has paid due homage. I created a character and put myself into him, a politically incorrect adventurer, a soldier of the old Spanish tercios, a sword for hire who nonetheless maintained a code of honor regarding certain behaviors and certain friendships. Thus was Captain Alatriste born.
To my surprise, what was initially intended to be a few popular novels became a publishing phenomenon in Spain. Four million copies of the five titles thus far in print have been sold, and this year a graphic novel and the film currently in production will expand the audience. The reason for the success of these novels among students, young readers, readers of all ages, could be that despite their basis in historical adventure, they are a world apart from the topics of today's novels for youth, recapturing the values of dignity, valor, and the harsh solitude imposed upon the hero confronting the hostile landscape of life.
In Madrid, tours have been organized that lead tourists through what city officials have dubbed "Captain Alatriste's Madrid." When I myself stroll through those old neighborhoods, I can't help feeling that around any corner I might come upon slender figure of that taciturn Diego Alatriste, see the glimmer of the sword of his mortal enemy, the Italian Gualterio Malatesta, hear the great Velazquez's Andalusian accent, listen to actors reciting lines from Lope de Vega or Calderón in El Príncipe, the famous open air theater of the time, performances that sometimes were ended by actual sword play, or walk into a tavern and find the poet Quevedo composing verses between sword fights, flirtations, and bottles of wine.
Erasing the boundary between history and fiction, and in the end being unable to differentiate between the real and the imagined, is a source of particular pleasure for the author. After all, that is why I write novels.
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