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The Focus-Abengoa Foundation has presented the book "Don Quixote in the kingdom of fantasy"

March 29, 2005

Seville, March 29, 2005. Today, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation has presented, in its Hospital de los Venerables headquarters, the book entitled Don Quixote in the kingdom of fantasy. The presentation of the aforesaid book is one of the first activities of the Commission of the 4th Centenary of El Quixote of Seville, and has been made by the academician and philologist, Jose Manuel Blecua Perdices, President of the National Commission of the 4th Centenary of El Quixote, who has commented the different subjects included in the book that throw new light on the masterpiece of Spanish literary history.

José Manuel Blecua Perdices, chosen to coordinate and lead the National Commission of the 4th Centenary of El Quixote, is Academic Director of Cervantes Institute and, from June of 2003, Academic-elect of the Spanish Royal Academiy and of the Royal Academy of Literature of Barcelona. Among other activities, he has coordinated the General Dictionary of Synonyms and Anonyms and has published lexicography works, of the history of linguistic ideas in Spain and the situation in relation to Spanish as a foreign language.

The book, Don Quixote in the kingdom of fantasy, is a collection of the nine highly acclaimed conferences given, by renowned experts on Cervantes’ work, during the celebration of the project organized in 2003 by the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, entitled Don Quixote and the imaginary world. An interdisciplinary perspective: painting, literature and music, whose triple scientific approach focused on the study of the imaginative richness of Cervantes’ book and materialized in three very closely interrelated activities: the exhibition of the paintings by the artist Muñoz Degrain from the National Library’s Cervantes Room; several concerts on European music for the organ in the time of El Quixote, and the aforementioned cycle of conferences.

The nine conferences, coordinated by Rogelio Reyes Cano, Lecturer in Spanish Literature at the University of Seville, and director of the Seville Royal Academy of Literature, are published in this book in the same order in which they were given. Many and varied were the topics dealt with throughout the cycle, mostly of a strictly philological and literary order (the language and structure of the book, the sense of some episodes…), although given the interdisciplinary approach thereof, Cervantes and El Quixote were dealt with from other complementary perspectives (biographic, historic, sociologic, artistic, musical…). Experts such as Francisco Marquez Villanueva, from Harvard University; Jean Canavaggio, from the University of Paris X; Cristobal Halffter, from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Ferdinand and director of the Spain Royal Academy, and Victor García de la Concha, director of the Spain Royal Academy, are but a few of those who, with their masterful lectures, endowed the cycle, and now the book, with the rigor and excellence a topic of this importance truly merits. We would especially mention the fact that the images illustrated in the publication are works that Antonio Muñoz Degrain painted for the National Library between 1916 and 1919. The twenty paintings in the series were restored by the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and exhibited at its Hospital de los Venerables headquarters, in Seville, from October to December 2003.

The work Don Quixote in the kingdom of fantasy, given the recognized scientific and professional solvency of its authors, is an important testimony to the best Cervantesism of the time, and is published early in the year in which the 4th Centenary of the publication of the first part of El Quixote is being commemorated.

With this cultural project, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation has managed to weigh up the intense biographical and literary relationships that exist between Cervantes and Seville, a city in which the great author lived for several years and whose different atmospheres he so brilliantly incorporated in his works.

Don Quixote and the imaginary world. An interdisciplinary perspective: painting, literature and music

In the autumn of 2003, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation presented the project entitled Don Quixote and the Imaginary World. An interdisciplinary perspective: painting, literature and music, as a preamble to the official celebrations being held this year to celebrate the 4th Centenary of the publication of El Quixote.

The Muñoz Degrain cervantine series in the National Library showed twenty paintings, integrally restored for the occasion, the artist from Valencia had painted between 1916 and 1919 for the National Library, and which has never before been exhibited in full outside the institution. The guiding wire of the expositive discourse was painting at the end of the 19th century, focused on the painter Antonio Muñoz Degrain (1840-1924), an artist who had very special repercussions on the Andalusia painting school between the centuries, from his activity as a teacher and master of painters in the city of Malaga. He was very much admired and respected by his students, Picasso among them.

With this exhibition, the Focus-Abengoa Foundation contributed to the study of the repercussion the figure of Cervantes and El Quixote had on the plastic arts, with special attention being paid to Andalusia, focusing on painting towards the end of the 19th century and on the painter Antonio Muñoz Degrain.

The literary approach was completed with the cycle of conferences entitled Don Quixote in the kingdom of fantasy. Reality and fiction in the mental and biographical universe of Cervantes, stressing the imaginative and mythical dimension of Cervantes’ book and the dialect between fiction and reality that brings meaning to the work. This is the cycle of nine highly acclaimed conferences that are published in the book, being presented today, entitled Don Quixote in the kingdom of fantasy.

Finally, the cycle of concerts European music for the organ in the time of Quixote, coordinated by Jose Enrique Ayarra, titular organist of the Hospital de los Venerables and the Cathedral of Seville, demonstrated the differentiation of the different European organ schools (such as the Flemish, German, Italian, French and Iberian), in musical forms, composition techniques, sound colorations, etc, with works by their greatest composers, given that the 17th century coincided with the appearance of these schools that originated in Seville at the end of the 16th century.

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation was established in 1982 as a consequence of the cultural activity initiated in 1972 by Abengoa with the publishing of the works "Sevillian Topics" and "Iconography of Seville". During this same period a collection of documents, books and prints on Seville, or by Sevillian authors, was being put together. This initial cultural activity brought Abengoa's senior management to see the importance of the company being seen outside its essential technological functions through an activity that would be of benefit to society as a whole, which led to the founding of the Fundación Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla.

The Foundation's activities have been ever-increasing, while complying unwaveringly with the foundational objective of promoting culture in its different artistic and scientific manifestations. The major protagonists in the existence of Focus-Abengoa have been education, painting, restoration and music, closely followed by seminars, the written word and prints.

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