September 1, 2011

Puncturing the "Hemingway Paradigm," part 1

I'm starting this blog after reading the umptienth American travel writer's article chronicling his or her (usually his) tour of Spanish places where Hemingway once sipped sherry, lauded a "good kill" at a bullfight, or ogled a flamenco dancer. Such is America's fascination with Hemingway's Spain, that a recent study by a Spanish tourism institute on "the image of Spain in the U.S." dubbed this effect the "paradigma Hemingway," or what one writer succinctly summed up in what could be this kind of tourism's slogan: "Blood, Sand, Sherry."

Memo to all Americans: There exists a Spain that Hemingway never visited, and in many ways it is actually better than the one he did see. It is time American tourists move with Spain into the 21st century, to discover how its cultural richness transcends the peculiar outdated macho (dare I say Victorian English) Romanticism that Hemingway marketed. Spain is more than bullfights, flamenco dancers, hot-blooded (European) southerners, and glasses of sherry.

A shop in Pamplona that capitalizes off
the huge Hemingway tourism there.
Don't get me wrong, reliving the footsteps of one of America's more noteworthy expats is one way to get to know the country. But only one way. As an expat who's been living in Spain for a while now, I'm tired of seeing the herds of Americans congregate around the usual suspects: Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Pamplona… I mean, Pamplona, come on! It is a tiny, one-trick city. To walk through it is to tour a city strewn with "Hemingway ate here" signs. One could visit Santiago de Compostela, San Sebastián, Valencia… places barely mentioned by "Don Ernesto," but with plenty more to offer visitors.


Nieves said...

Thanks for your visit and comment in my blog, Sangria sol y siesta, I totally agree with the philosophy of your blog, which it seems to me very interesting, not under the romantic Hemingway's perspective but a more real and current one. So I have become a follower of your interesting blog to come here again. Best wishes,

An Expat in Spain said...

Hi Nieves! Thanks for following. I also look forward to reading your future blog posts. I really like your eclectic topics, and you definitely do a great job of not simply replicating the "Spanish cliché of 'flamenco, toros, y olé'." Keep it up!

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