Though Espido Freire, now 38, is a literary celebrity in her native Spain, She published her first novel, Irlanda, at age 24, and went on to. The latest addition to my website is Espido Freire’s Irlanda (Irlanda). Freire’s first novel is the only one of her novels to be translated into English. I love Espido Freire’s Irlanda and it has always annoyed me that it isn’t more widely known. At least, now people can read it in English. Yay!.

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Before I tell you about this beautiful book, let me pose a question to you, you intelligent readers. She published her first novel, Irlanda, at age 24, and went on to win the Premio Planeta irlanva Premio Ateneo de Sevilla awards for her subsequent novels; the French version of Irlanda, translated by Eva Calveyra, won the Millepage Prize.

You know as well as I that the question has several possible answers—the US publishing market, the seemingly absent word-of-mouth dreire exists between us and everything beyond the Atlantic Ocean with the exception of iranda few musiciansthe list goes on.

But let me toss another possibility into the mix—could it have to do with the subject matter? This past weekend at AWP, in between dodging sleeping writers in the hallways and imbibing a good bit of the flavored vodka Chicago has on offer, I had the fantastic good luck to sit down with Kate Bernheimer, editor of The Fairy Tale Review whose press has just published Irlanda and she shared her frustrations with what she perceives to be a prejudice against fairy tales as a form, and as irlaanda matter in the world of publishing and academia.


Natalia is a contemporary teen—she mentions TV and prep school—but her voice is decidedly of another world.

And like Jane Eyre—another tower-climbing Gothic heroine who narrates her own tale—Natalia refers often to fairy tales and folk superstitions to explain her actions and reactions in the story. Irlanda also freier the traditional fairy tale logic that evil is cut down and only good rewarded in the end, and instead offers the reader a bleaker worldview, in which the protagonist is rewarded—but did she deserve it? When Irlanda and Natalia finally face off at the climactic moment of the story—set atop a crumbling stone tower, a gothic trope indeed—I felt little satisfaction at watching the final move take place.

Instead, I was left with wonder, irlannda a lingering dread.

I found myself re-reading several passages, especially when Natalia seems to be speaking to herself, wondering what, exactly, was being worked out. But my desire to watch the progression of these strange cousins on their ghostly estate toward inevitable tragedy kept me skimming over the passages of impassable prose, and speeding to the finish.

Espido Freire: Irlanda (Irlanda)

Maybe—this advice to cut them out seems to stem from a presupposition that fairy tales have no power, to move or affect a reader. But Irlanda seems to me to be another example preaching the volatility of fairy tales, rather than their immobility. Like film director Catherine Breillat, Freire uses fairy tales in a twisting—and somewhat twisted—way, showing their power over the mind, but their flaws when used to frame a psychological situation.


They represent a history and an inheritance, as Natalia shows when she perceives her cousin Irlanda as a symbolic freird of their cruel ancestor, Hibernia, about whom the family has told tales for generations. This might mark Natalia as a perceptive girl, but when taken too far, it also has a hand in her moral and psychological downfall.

The stunning cover design is by Nicoletta Ceccoli. Thanks for the helpful context. You are commenting using your WordPress.

Espido Freire’s Irlanda | Something to Read for the Train

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Espido Freire: Irlanda (Irlanda) – The Modern Novel

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