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  • Location: Barcelona

The City of Marvels

The City of Marvels

Why a Booktrail?

1888/1929: A fictional account of Barcelona between the Universal Expositions of 1888 and 1929.

  • ISBN: 978-0671702342
  • Translator: Bernard Molloy
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

Young Onofre Bouvila, travels to  Barcelona, in the search of something new. He craves the wealth and the lifestyle he sees there and desperately wants to be part of it. But as he immerses himself in the society he so craves, it apparently does not want to offer the same welcome to him. But there are ways round that.

Barcelona is a city in transformation and its a city that reveals its secrets, problems and dreams at Onofre discovers his. He may have been a poor Catalan country boy but once in Barcelona he lies, cheats, and murders his way to get exactly what he wants.

Travel Guide

“The traveller who comes to Barcelona for the first time soon notices where the old city ends and the new begins. The streets become straight and wide instead of winding: the pavements, less crowded; tall plane trees shade them pleasantly; the buildings are more distinguished … another city.”

Barcelona  is the main character here and it is Barcelona that is on the stage at all times, the actions of Onofre and other character merely acting out and emphasizing some of the more historical an important parts of the Spanish story.

For example, Barcelona was during its two world fairs – the 1888 world fair and that of 1929 trying to make its way in the world and in the rest of Spain by selling its status and a global and culturally important city by selling and promoting its culture and history to the world.

This is how Bouvila starts off by going to the site of the world fair and handing out anarchist leaflets thus making connections and trying to meet people of influence. This fair represents the movers and shakers of the world and Bouvila wants to be one of them. These first tastes of Catalan industry lead him to deeply embed himself in the process of urbanization taking place in Barcelona.

We were fascinated to learn of the process of urbanisation of the city and see how the property boom and bust over the years has led to the sprawl of the city we see today. There have been well documented problems of low quality housing and ghettos of rich and poor and how the high ups have monopolised the wealth over the years. Of course satire and wit play a part too but overall it reads as an unofficial and often unsavoury guide to how a city can grown and how a few men can make so much profit from other people’s gain.

Even though the novel is fictional, it is based on historical fact and would make a great book to read before you go as we’re sure you’ll take a closer look at things after you do.

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