The province of Málaga has provided the setting for a number of novels over the 19th and 20th centuries. Furthermore, the Costa del Sol is the birthplace of some of the greats of Spanish literature, and its landscape, customs and people have captured the hearts of numerous foreign authors who have felt very much at home here.
Bullfighting and bandit novels
Andalusia's bullfighting tradition and the stories of the bandits of the Serranía de Ronda have been two subjects embraced by literary figures abroad.
On the subject of bullfighting, Ernest Hemingway is the name that stands out. Hemingway's love of bulls and his fondness of the Málaga bullfighter Cayetano Ordóñez brought him to Ronda on several occasions. It's this bullfighter that inspired him to write Death in the Afternoon, his first bullfighting novel.
The adventures of the bandits – those outlaws who hid out in the Andalusian mountains – soon roused the curiosity of foreign writers. Figures such as El Tempranillo, an infamous bandit from the Serranía de Ronda, were main characters in the stories of novelists from all over the world. So much as so that the term "romantic travellers" is used to describe foreign writers who came to Ronda to write about them.
"Carmen", the famous novel by Merimée, is the clearest example of this fascination in bandit stories. No to mention the fact this work also inspired the famous opera by Georges Bizet. Merimée was one of those "romantic travellers" who fell in love with this part of Spain, having made seven trips here between 1830 and 1864.
Other writers who were drawn in by the customs and the character of the people of Málaga include historian Ian Gibson, who currently lives in the neighbourhood of La Malagueta (Málaga) and Gerald Brenan, a British writer who wrote numerous travel books about the region. Brenan died in Alhaurín el Grande, a village where you can visit the house where he lived for part of his life.
In addition to travel books, Brenan experienced a notorious event of the Spanish Civil War – the Málaga-Almería Road Massacre – which inspired him to write The Spanish Labyrinth. His wife, Gamel Woolsey, wrote memoirs on the Spanish Civil War called Málaga in Flames.
From María Zambrano to Blas Infante
The philosopher and essayist María Zambrano is one of the distinguished names to top the list of Málaga writers. Born in Vélez-Málaga, she was given the Prince of Asturias Award and the Miguel de Cervantes Literature Prize. She's one of this country's great thinkers, and was very close friends with José Ortega y Gasset and writers of the Generation of '27, such as Luis Cernuda and Miguel Hernández. Málaga train station is named after her.
Blas Infante, who is known as the "Father of Andalusia", was born in Casares. Along with his heavy political involvement, he is considered the founder of "Andalucismo" (Andalusian nationalism), and wrote several literary works. In 1918, the Assembly of Andalusian Provinces that was held in Ronda led to the emergence of distinctive Andalusian symbols: the flag, the coat of arms, the anthem (which he wrote himself) and the motto: "Andalusia by herself, for Spain and Humanity".
Other famous Málaga writers include the poet Vicente Espinel and Francisco Giner de los Ríos, who is considered the main inspiration behind the Generation of '98. A particularly unusual case is that of Santa Teresa de Jesús, a mystic writer whose hand is kept as a relic in the Merced de Ronda Monastery despite the fact she never lived in Andalusia.