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Welcome to the spring 2020 edition of the Bulletin, after a winter in which Brexit and the formation of Spain’s first post-war coalition government were only overshadowed, I’m Cambridgesure you would agree, by CIE’s announcement that it would discontinue the Pre-U after 2023. Uncomfortable news for the academic community – by and large schools had welcomed its rigour and range and will be sad to see it go. At the same time, perhaps it has done its job in changing the A Level landscape. The new A Level syllabuses look more like the Pre-U in offering a range of texts and films.

In this edition author Jason Webster takes stock of where Spanish politics now stands, with the Left banding together to resist the right-wing surge while seeking a constructive way forward on Catalonia.

The northern winter is a good time to contemplate the warmer parts of the Spanish-speaking world. Robin Wallis returns from the Southern Cone with poignant insights into Chile and Argentina in 2020, debunking the myth that the former is an unmitigated success while the latter flounders in perpetual chaos.

caracas homeFrom there we move to Venezuela, with Susana Justham Bello tracing the recent history of Caracas and how it went from being a prosperous city to a place where everyone except the political elite is malnourished and malcontent, with millions fleeing the country.

Staying in the same hemisphere but moving further north, Francisco Compán reflects on the status of Spanish in the United States, which now has the second largest community of Spanish-speakers, coming after Mexico but ahead of Spain, Colombia and Argentina.

Focusing on literature, Nathanial Gardner looks at Pablo Neruda’s Canto general and in particular the illustrations of the first Mexican edition of this huge and ambitious cycle of poems about Latin America.  Laetitia Hosie has reviewed the novel Como agua para chocolate, a Pre-U Topic text alongside Las 13 rosas and Esos cielos, and assesses why it is such a popular read.  Etta Selim turns her attention to the fantastic in El encuentro and El Sur, arguing that the ambiguity of these stories is key to their enjoyment.

From Borges to Cervantes is but a small step, especially given that in his light-hearted and intelligent article on postmodernism in Cervantes Ben Kara quotes the Argentine master on why we are disturbed to find that Don Quixote has read Don Quixote (answer: if a fictitious character can read a real book, maybe we are fictitious too).

siglo de oro

And from Cervantes, that towering giant of Golden Age prose, we only have to cross the road so to speak to dive into the wonderful world of Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina and Calderón de la Barca – the three greatest Golden Age playwrights. In his contribution Sander Berg shares his thoughts about the challenges of putting on Golden Age comedies and offers a few solutions.

We will be welcoming contributions to our next edition by the end of May please. New readers are welcome to join our mailing list by using the contact tab above.  If you would like to become involved in writing or editing, please also get in touch.

Happy reading!

The BAS editorial team