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“My chief joy […] is the Sierra de Guadarrama; the long range of brown mountains to the North and West: Behind them the sun sets with numbing glory. I’ve never seen such sunsets; they stir up your soul the way a cook stirs a pot of broth but with what a golden spoon.”
                                                                                                                     The Best Times
During his first trip to Madrid as a young student in 1916, John Dos Passos became “mad about Spain” as reflected in his works Rosinante to the Road Again, A Pushcart at The Curb, and his letters and diaries. His understanding of Spanish history, literature, art and politics turned him into an exceptional witness of the events that led up to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) as reflected in his non-fictional writings on the Spain of the 1930s collected in Journeys Between Wars and In All Countries. With his novel Adventures of a Young Man and his essay “Farewell to Europe,” Dos Passos expressed his political disillusionment after the execution of his Spanish friend and translator José Robles during the war – a tragic event that meant a turning point in his life and writing career and which has been frequently revisited by critics and scholars since.
The Conference was hosted by Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio, Spain’s largest private university with around 11,000 students, at its Madrid-Chamartín Campus where the Faculty of Music and Performative Arts is located. 25 participants from 9 countries took part in a dozen panels dealing not only with Dos Passos’s relationship to Spain and his works of Spanish inspiration, but also with Art, Music and Travel.
Full account of the Second Biennial Conference to follow in our 2017 Newsletter.