No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition
20 August 2012 § 1 Comment
He descends into the scorching streets of a southern city…
My family may have thought they were safe from “Doffywevvy” (as my son used to call him) while we were on holiday in Southern Spain, but they were wrong, because we had a day out in Seville, home of the Grand Inquisitor. I couldn’t help but see the trip as a mini-pilgrimage, although I was a little disappointed to discover that Dostoevsky (or Ivan Karamazov) had obviously not really done any research. Ivan’s poem describes Christ appearing on the steps of the cathedral, raising a girl from the dead, and then being arrested by the Grand Inquisitor who sees the hubhub from across the square and comes to see what’s going on, but there are no steps to speak of, and the main west door of the cathedral gives onto a narrow alleyway. The great courtyard in the picture below (taken from the Giralda tower) is to the north side, and there’s quite a big plaza to the south too, but otherwise, the cathedral is hemmed in by a maze of narrow streets, and is surprisingly hard to find. We queued at the southern door for an hour in blazing heat, and I chastised a Russian family who were brazenly attempting to queue-jump, much to their surprise. No-one expects a cross, Russian-speaking Brit.
Now, of course, I know that the discrepancies between Ivan’s description and reality hardly matter, but it was an interesting game to play. I was also surprised at how much that passage had coloured my expectations of Seville. The incredible heat and the narrow streets were there, but because most of the action takes place during a hot, airless Seville night, my brain hadn’t expected such glittering whiteness, from the buildings and from the searing sunlight. At least such differences meant that my over-active imagination didn’t expect an Inquisitor to pop out from behind a corner.
(PS I did take some photos of the doors, but my camera has gone to China with my husband, so I had to use one of the Small Boy’s pictures – and he was more interested in architecture than literature).