Holy Toledo: Muslim-Christian Relations and Catholic Nationalism in Vicente Blasco Ibáñez's The Shadow of the Cathedral
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Although the eminent Spanish novelist and anticlericalist Vicente Blasco Ibánez (1867-1928) received little scholarly attention outside his homeland for several decades, he gained significantly greater international notice in the latter half of the twentieth century. His novel of 1903, La Catedral, published in both the United Kingdom and the United States of America six years later as The Shadow of the Cathedral, is a scathing indictment of the conservative Roman Catholic religious establishment in Spain. Blasco Ibánez faulted its intolerant monopoly on national spiritual life for much of the country's cultural, political, and economic backwardness. Relying heavily on the subsequently discredited nineteenth-century belief that Andalusian Spain had been a model of religious toleration under Islamic hegemony for many generations following the Moorish invasion in the eight century and that this had fostered a golden era of cultural flourishing, he argued for the dismantling of Catholic privilege in favour of secularism, toleration, and pluralistic religious freedom to spur the country out of its stagnancy. This article explores both the construction and recent dismantling of the myth of religious harmony in Moorish Spain and how that perception of the Middle Ages is used rhetorically in The Shadow of the Cathedral.
- Faculty of Theology