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A WASEDA Miscellany


This theme : The Charm of Spanish Literature

BASABE Alfredo
Faculty of Political Science and Economics Professor

Q. Please tell me about your background before becoming a lecturer at Waseda

A. I was born in Santander, Spain in 1964. After graduating from the Philology Department, the Autonomous University of Madrid, I came to Japan in 1989. I taught at a Spanish language school in Tokyo, and after leaving the school, I worked for many colleges and universities as a part-time lecturer and in 1997 I started to work for the Faculty of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University.

Q. Please tell me about the research you are currently working on and the reasons you chose this theme.

A. I am a specialist in Spanish literature, in particular poetry from the latter half of the 20th century. Currently, I am studying a group of Spanish poets from the "50s." They reached the highest artistic level in the 20th century and remarkably impacted all poets in Spain in later years. Especially, one of them, "Carlos Sahagun" is still relatively unknown to the world, and I would like to contribute to making the charm of his work widely recognized.

Q. What is interesting about Spanish literature and modern Spanish poetry?

A. Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world. In other words, Spanish literature is one that can be read by more than 400 million people. It plays a unique part in European culture inheriting Greek and Roman culture. Furthermore, it has also generated many masterpieces. If I was to choose three of them, my selections would be "Song of My Cid," "La Celestina," and the greatest work in Spanish literature "Don Quixote."
The 20th century was a time when works of literature in Spanish highly flourished not only in Spain but also in South America. For this reason, it can be called the peak of modern Spanish history. In particular, the poets of the "Generation of 1927," can be said to represent modern history of all Europe. Among them are, for example, the very famous Garcia Lorca and Vicente Aleixandre, laureate of the Nobel Prize in literature.

Q. Please tell me of some works of Spanish literature you would really like Japanese students to read.

A. I would really like them to read "Don Quixote" at some stage. If I was to recommend some newer ones, there are two very interesting books from the 20th century. One is "La Colmena" by Camilo Jose Cela, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, and the other is "Tiempo de silencio" by Luis Martin Santos. Both are outstanding pieces of work and are the most suitable for learning about Spanish society in the late 20th century.

Q. What is your opinion of Japanese university students?

A. At the very least, the majority of Waseda students are serious and honest. In general, their attitude in class is good. If I dare complain, I would like them to study in a somewhat more positive manner. By doing so, perhaps I wouldn't have to do all the talking in class.

Q. What differences do you feel there are between Japanese and Spanish universities?

A. In Spain, the establishment of private universities was not allowed until recently, so most universities are public. There is no rank among universities. In most cases, students enter the university his or her high school is assigned to. Students choose universities not by rank but by the profession they want to adopt. In short,
while Japanese universities are difficult to enter, it is easy to graduate, but for Spanish universities, it is easy to enter but difficult to graduate.

Q. Please tell me your recent interests in daily life.

A. It is an old hobby of mine, but my interest in chess has recently been reignited. I know that it is not so popular in Japan, but I want to recommend it to students. It is said to have a good effect on thinking, concentration and judgment.

Q. Please tell me about your aspirations for the future.

A. I really want to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. I will stay in Spain for a while, and during that period, I will collect many documents and then return to Japan to further the studies I have conducted while working at Waseda University. At Waseda University, I want to become a better researcher and a good educator.