Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Arturo Pérez-Reverte: The Sun Over Breda

Kai Maristed reviews Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Sun Over Breda.
For all its rigorous authenticity, and lack of narrative surprise, "The Sun Over Breda" is no arcane, little-known exercise in military history. It's the third volume in Pérez-Reverte's Capt. Alatriste series, which, with his other novels, such as "The Club Dumas," first caught fire in the Spanish-speaking world and now have sold almost 5 million copies worldwide. Pérez-Reverte, a former war correspondent, has recently garnered bouquets of critical accolades in Europe for a subsequent, contemporary novel (as yet unpublished in English), "The Painter of Battles." The title merges two subjects in the foreground of "The Sun Over Breda," and just as Velázquez painted himself into his own work as an observer at Breda, so one can visualize Pérez-Reverte writing himself into the character of a portrayer of warfare.

Perhaps the role, and the attitude, of such fascinated observers must by nature be ambiguous. As Íñigo exclaims, after another round of mutual dismemberment and extinction, "I know that from the beginning of time, well-intentioned people have condemned violence and preached peace and God's word, and I, better than many, know what war does to a man's body and soul, but despite all that … I cannot help but shiver with admiration when I witness the courage of valiant men." Words to ponder, in our time. Read More

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