A Story of Vim and Rigor

BARCELONA by Robert Hughes; Knopf; 573 pages; $27.50

For Cervantes, Barcelona was a "refuge of foreigners, school of chivalry, and epitome of all that a civilized and inquisitive taste could ask for." For less quixotic souls, however, the Spanish city has always been something quite other, a contentious, raffish, yeasty place of shopkeepers. Catalans, as Robert Hughes sympathetically calls them, pride themselves on their pragmatism and their independent-mindedne ss: two of their sovereign virtues are mesura and ironia. And at the heart of their idealized self-image is seny, or "a natural level-headedness." The patron saint of Barcelona, St. Eulalia, is also...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!