The Sweetness Of The Garden

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20110722

In the Spring of 1829, Washington Irving - who'd been invited to Spain to explore newly open archive in Madrid - made as he put it "a rambling expedition from Seville to wander among the romantic mountains of Andalusia to Granada." America's first world-celebrated writer (and the author of such classics as 'Rip Van Winkle' and 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'), Irving was permitted to sojourn in the magnificent palace of the Moorish rulers, the Alhambra: "Who can do justice to a moonlight night in such a climate and such a place?" The resultant 'Tales of the Alhambra' - which Irving wrote in a "rambling set of empty, unfurnished rooms" - celebrate the enchantment of the palace, described by Arabs as 'a pearl set in emeralds' for the brilliance of its ornamentation and the lush verdure of its many gardens.

The Moors were famous makers of gardens - paradise on earth, as the Prophet called them - refuge from the aridity and heat of the desert, supplied with fragrance and, above all, luxuriant in water, its sound and coolness.

In this illustrated interval talk, Graeme Fife takes us on a virtual tour of the Alhambra's famous gardens, their tiled courtyards and pools and basins of living water - using readings from Irving's 'Tales of the Alhambra', and comparing them with his own recollections and the descriptions provided by Arabic poets of the day.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Graeme Fife on the famed gardens of the Alhambra, through Washington Irving's writings.