The Barcelona Reader

BookThe Barcelona Reader

The Barcelona Reader

Cultural Readings of a City


July 24th, 2017



Other Formats



Over the last twenty years there has been a growing international interest in the city of Barcelona. This has been reflected in the academic world through a series of studies, courses, seminars, and publications. The Barcelona Reader hinges together a selection of the best academic articles, written in English, about the city, and its main elements of identity and interest: art, urban planning, history and social movements. The book includes scholarly essays about Barcelona that can be of interest to the student and the general public alike. It focuses on cultural representations of the city: the arts (including literature) provide a complex yet discontinuous portrait of the city, similar to a patchwork. The authors selected create a kaleidoscope of views and voices thus presenting a diverse yet inclusive Barcelona portrait. The Barcelona Reader offers a multifaceted assessment that will be essential reading for anyone interested in this iconic city.


'Bou and Subirana offer us a great collection of articles on the city of Barcelona written in English (...) in a book with a wide approach to the subject. The city is, by definition, a complex creation and its interpretation therefore demands a plurality of views ("ways of seeing" according to John Berger). Barcelones, in the words of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, expresses this multifocal attitude to observe reality and face the object of study. (...) With the help of twenty-one top-level essayists, they have turned Barcelona into a field of study of increasing interest. The complexity of the city demanded, as we say, multiple knowledge. The look that the texts present to us is the result of an interpretative framework that the authors define in so far as they practice it.'
Toni Mollà, L'Espill

'A cultural feast for both visitors and residents, the city is captured with depth and precision in The Barcelona Reader [...] Overall, the reader provides an in-depth study of Barcelona, from its crimes and graveyards, to its grand streets, to the questions of authenticity and tourism, to the showcase of the 1992 Olympic games. This is a reader that achieves its raison d’être, covering a broad range of specialities and topics for just about everyone. Ultimately, The Barcelona Reader succeeds in capturing the true essence of the city.'
Pádraig Collins, AIGNE

Author Information

Enric Bou has been chair of the Hispanic Studies Department at Brown University (Providence), between 2002 and 2011, and president of the North- American Catalan Society between 2007 and 2010. Currently he is professor in the Department of Comparative Linguistic and Cultural Studies at Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice. His latest book is Invention of Space. City, Travel and Literature (Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2013), published also in Catalan: La invenció de l’espai. Ciutat i viatge (Publicacions Universitat de València, 2013). Jaume Subirana is Associate Professor at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, and he has been visiting professor at Duke University, University of British Columbia, Brown University and Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice. He edited Willkommen in Katalonien. Eine literarische Entdeckungsreise (dtv, 2007), and has published Barcelona acròstic, Barcelona 365. Temps i ciutat and recently, BarcelonABC. Alfabet d’una ciutat/A City Alphabet (2013).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Notes on contributors13
Introduction: Barcelona: Cultural readings of a city19
Part I: City, history, and territory37
1. Barcelona: The siege city39
2. Barcelona as an adaptive ecology61
3. A present past, Barcelona street names, from Víctor Balaguer to Pasqual Maragall89
4. ‘The asylum of modern times’: Barcelona and Europe109
5. A fragile country149
Part II: City and society161
6. Barcelona and modernity163
7. Football and identities in Catalonia181
8. The family and the city: Power and the creation of cultural imagery203
9. Memory and the city in Barcelona’s cemeteries227
Part III: Art, architecture, and the city259
10. Picasso among his fellows at 4 Gats: Beyond Modernisme?261
11. Gaudí: Poet of stone, artistic hedgehog283
12. El Poble Espanyol / El Pueblo Español (1929)313
Part IV: The Olympics and the city339
13. Barcelona: Urban identity 1992–2002341
14. From the Olympic Torch to the Universal Forum of Cultures: The after-image of Barcelona’s modernity365
Part V: Literature, cinema, and the city399
15. La Gran Encisera: Three odes to Barcelona, and a film401
16. The deceptive dame: Criminal revelations of the Catalan capital413
17. A Biutiful city: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s filmic critique of the ‘Barcelona Model’435