Historian Fernando García de Cortázar dies aged 79

Historian Fernando García de Cortázar dies aged 79

The historian Fernando García de Cortázar, Francoist Prize for History 2008 for his text History of Spain from Art (Planeta) and author of bestsellers such as Brief History of Spain (Alianza, 1993) , died this Sunday “unexpectedly” in the of 79 sources, reports in a press release the Society of Jesus, to which the priest also belonged. The death occurred around five o’clock in the morning at the Luz Hospital in Madrid. García de Cortázar was admitted Thursday with an intestinal cavity for which he underwent surgery, but a postoperative complication led to his death, the statement said. His remains were transferred to the San Isidro funeral home in Madrid. On Tuesday he will be buried in the Sanctuary of Loyola de Azpeitia (Gipuzkoa).

Fernando García de Cortázar y Ruiz de Aguirre, an affable man with rich conversations, was born on September 4, 1942 in Bilbao, a city he knew and where he enjoyed the best restaurants. He entered the Society of Jesus in August 1959 and was ordained a priest in Loyola in July 1971. He studied philosophy and literature in Salamanca and then in Loyola, graduating in 1966. He then studied theology in Madrid (1968-72 ). ) and eventually earned his doctorate in history and theology. He was Professor of Art of Philosophy and Knowledge at the University of Deusto and Professor of Contemporary History of Spain at the same university, of which he was Dean between 1981 and 1982. He was also Professor emeritus of art of the social sciences and humanities. since 2007 .

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A pupil of Miguel Artola, García de Cortázar was blessed with The Little Prince, a text to which he always returned, and was known for telling the story in his books using close, entertaining and funny jargon in the style of Anglo-American historians. saxons. , “Let history come out of the university ghettos”, he proclaimed.

The purpose of his books was to help “create a long-standing awareness of Spain as a nation”. For him, “Spain is not a nation of nations, but a multicultural nation with great diversification”. Highly critical of Catalan and Basque nationalism, he explains that these movements “were born in the 19th century as a result of the invention of nations and did not take into account the fact that society at the end of the 20th century was much more heterogeneous than that of the Nineteenth century. You have to be careful whenever you focus on cities. I prefer to whisper about the citizens”.

During an interview with EL PAÍS in 2016, he revealed that he was one of the historians summoned by Felipe González, shortly after his appointment as Prime Minister, to ask his opinion on the main problems of the country. García de Cortázar recalled that the relationship with Catalonia was almost unanimously identified as the most worrying aspect, despite the terrorism of ETA during those years. “ETA was an anachronism that we were convinced would sooner or later disappear,” said Random, who had to have an escort for 12 years.

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On the Catalan question, he explained that the economic crisis had “favored a utopia in Catalonia, that of the feeling of independence”, but at the same time he regretted that “no attempt has been made on the other side to show the feeling of moving the country forward together.”

Beyond the Spanish borders, García de Cortázar used to warn that there was a pessimistic view of his own history in Spain, promoted centuries behind the backs of the enemies of the Spanish crown (“the black epigraph was fabricated from the outside, with the idea that the Spaniards eroded the hegemony”). On his account, all this motivated the current “weak Francoist consciousness”. He, on the other hand, liked to whisper about “patriotism culture”, on a global vision of Spain linked, for example, “to the art of its painters or to letters”, which made him believe in a more enthusiastic future for the country. . . He was also against the programs of history “who had relaunched the specific” to please the autonomous.

Author of more than 70 works and of the monumental encyclopaedia La Historia en su motif, he was also a regular contributor to the press, among which the newspaper Abc stands out. The defender of his articles was also published in EL PAÍS in June 2019. Among his titles stands out the work that won him the Francoist prize, History of Spain from Art, a text in which he has covered the history of the country 600 Great Works; the bestseller Brief History of Spain (half a million copies sold and ten months on the bestseller lists), co-written with José Manuel González Vesga; The myths of the history of Spain, Atlas of the history of Spain, The losers of the history of Spain or Brief cultural history of Spain.

While he was a commodity he hated at first, he also successfully ventured into historical novels, like Your face with the tide, which won him the Alphonse X prize in 2013, and Somebody froze. your lips, a hallucination of the Spain of the XVI and XVII centuries which represent the pretensions of power of the sovereigns, the intrigues of palaces, the territorial problems and the corruption. He also gained notoriety as a research adviser for the television series Memoria de España, which began in Atapuerca until the constitution of Spain. However, it was criticized for its poor execution and by nationalist parties for its overly Spanish-influenced interpretation of history.

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