By Robert Irwin
- Author: Robert Irwin
- Publisher: Harvard University Press
- Published: September 2004
- ISBN-10: 0674015681
- ISBN-13: 9780674015685
- Format: Hardcover
- Size: 4.75 X 0.5 X 7.5
- Weight: 0.65 lbs.
- Copyright: 2004
- Subject: TRAVEL / Europe / Spain & Portugal
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The Alhambra is the only Muslim palace to have survived from the Middle Ages. Built by a bloody and threatened dynasty of Muslim Spain, it was preserved as a monument to the triumph of Christianity. Every day tourists in their thousands are entranced by its superb site, its towers and courts, its fountained gardens, its honeycombed ceilings and its intricate tile work. Much of what they see is the invention of later generations. Its highly sophisticated decoration is not just random but full of hidden meaning. Its most magnificent buildings were designed not by architects, but by philosophers and poets. It is a place of many mysteries. Even its purpose is not always clear. The Alhambra, which resembles a fairy tale palace, was constructed by slave labour in an era of economic decline, plague and political violence. Its beautifully decorated halls witnessed many murders. The Alhambra's influence on art, and on literature, Orientalist painting and Granada cinemas, Washington Irving and Borges, has been significant. Robert Irwin helps us to understand that story fully.
The only Muslim palace to survive in the West, the Alhambra, a beautiful collection of buildings and gardens set against the mountain backdrop of Granada, has been fixed in travelers' imaginations since the 19th-century works of American novelist Washington Irving made the site famous. Unfortunately, much of what we know and think about it remains more romanticized fiction than fact. Here, Irwin (a novelist and noted Islamicist) helps set the record straight. As he explains, the Alhambra has been highly-and often inaccurately-reconstructed over the centuries, changing and expanding with the shifting notions of how this collection of buildings had originally been used. No matter how beautiful, he asserts, today the Alhambra is a mere shadow of its former glory, when it dripped with beautiful tapestries and exquisite carpets. Irwin's direct and witty style makes this slim volume a joy to read, and his chapter on the depiction of the Alhambra in Western art and literature is especially useful. With an excellent bibliographic essay; recommended for all libraries with travel or art history collections.-Olga B. Wise, Austin, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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