Spanish Culture and News

Books Rise in Spain as Subtitles Appear on TV!

Feria de Libros, Madrid

From the Independent:

“House sales have plunged, automobiles have tanked, and credit is throttled, but Spain is experiencing an unprecedented boom in books. Once the nation that read fewer books than any other in Europe, Spaniards have become voracious readers, devouring more books than ever before.”

It does seem that books are “in” these days. Certianly this week’s book fair in Madrid’s Retiro Park, pictured above, was so claustrophobicly packed with book-hunters that I could only manage 2 minutes of browsing before heading to the quiter corners of the park.

One thing I have always loved about Spanish readers is the care they take over their books. Often they are covered immediately after purchase, albeit with ugly brown paper, which makes it impossible to see what anyone is actually reading on the Metro. I wonder if this is becuase they are actually devouring “The Amorous Adventures of Don Libido”, but according to the Independent, literary taste these days is far more high-brow than that:

“Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s latest novel, El juego del Angel, soon to appear in English as The Angel’s Game, was published in April with an astronomical print run of a million, now almost exhausted. Ken Follet’s blockbuster World Without End, which is partly set in the Basque capital, Vitoria, has sold more than a million copies since it first appeared in Spain as El Mundo sin Fin last December.”

In other cultural news, I was shocked over the weekend to hear English coming out of our 14″ make-do-for-now TV. I rushed out of the kitchen to find that the cookery program being shown on TV1 was actually broadcasting a French guy speaking English without, as is the usual practice, overdubbing him badly with Spanish audio.

Instead, to my absolute amazement, Spanish subtitles flashed by underneath. Subtitles! When it is so easy to just turn down his English audio a bit and translate in Spanish over the top, leading to insanity for anyone who is acutally an English speaker and tries to listen to both languages at once.

They say that subtitles never caught on here either because there wasn’t enought literacy in Franco’s times to make them worthwhile, or because Franco could better censor the content of foreign films by cutting out the orginal dialogue and placing a censored version over the top. Perhaps it’s all this book reading that lead to their appearance on the cookery programme on Saturday night. In any case, I’d say strange times are ahead!