George V. Reilly

Wilfred the Hairy

This may, perhaps, be old news in bear circles, but I only read it ten days ago on the plane over, in Robert Hughes' quirky Barcelona the Great En­chantress. The founder of Catalunyan/Catalonian/Catalan national in­de­pen­dence a thousand years' ago was the Visigoth known as Wilfred the Hairy. History does not record with any clarity how Guifré el Pilós earned that name.

I haven't visited the Iberian peninsula since the 1970s when the well-founded stereotype was that Spanish men had mustaches. That seems to have gone out of style: almost all men, young or old, were clean­shaven. And after having seen countless women wearing tanktops in the heat, I can say that continue.

Review: Barcelona the Great Enchantress

Title: Barcelona the Great En­chantress
Author: Robert Hughes
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: National Geographic Directions
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 169
Keywords: history, au­to­bi­og­ra­phy
Reading period: 15–24 July, 2009

Robert Hughes has been in love with Barcelona and its people for four decades. This book—part selective history, part memoir—is adapted from a much larger, earlier book about Barcelona. Hughes is a partisan of Catalan culture and food. He brings us from its Roman origins as Barcino, Catalun­ya's founding as an in­de­pen­dent nation a thousand years ago by the Visigoth Wilfred the Hairy, up through the Olympics in 1992. This is no com­pre­hen­sive survey: he spends more time on submarine inventor Monturiol than on the Spanish Civil continue.