All posts, Culture and buildings

Gerald Brenan: a return to Yegen (1974 documentary)

In an early trip to this area (around 2013), we headed to Yegen; a village in La Alpujarra made famous by British writer, Gerald Brenan. His famous book – South from Granada – painted a picture of his five years there, from 1919.

Tormented by the harsh Andalusian sun for much of the year but blessed with abundant water, the village has changed little over the last century – although in Brenan’s day it was effectively cut off from surrounding villages. He had walked there from Granada, passing through villages until he reached Yegen where, for around 6 pounds a year, he rented a 15-room house at its heart.

He returned to the village – and his old house – in 1974, and with Spanish writer and presenter, Alfredo Amestoy, made a documentary called ‘Agua pasada‘. Brenan was aged around 80 at the time.

All the Tourist Board videos in the world couldn’t paint a better picture of why people love this special part of Spain. He fell in love with the country and wrote about little else over the following decades.

If you love history and glimpses of Andalucia’s past – especially that of La Alpujarra – then this three-part documentary is worth watching. There’s not a tapa or bikini in sight, just the dusty streets and some long-gone faces of a sleepy village.

By the time of Brenan’s return, men who once sang while they worked, no longer did – and women maybe while ‘washing whites’. And people no longer danced to Flamenco, but ‘modern music’. Even Yegen had changed, just a little.

Here goes (45 minutes in total):

Part 1 [Warning: pig slaughter at 10:00 which some may find upsetting]

Part 2

Part 3


Related posts:

1967: anatomy of a film – Jerez, Andalucia (part 1)

The English Cemetery, Málaga (where Brenan is buried)

South from Granada – by Gerald Brenan (book)

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All about Granada, Órgiva, La Alpujarras, Las Alpujarras, Andalucia, Spain – tapas, history, local guides and more.


7 thoughts on “Gerald Brenan: a return to Yegen (1974 documentary)

  1. We hope to return and do a ‘then and now’ piece on Yegen using stills from the documentary. Doubt much has changed, buildings-wise.

    Posted by con jamón spain | June 10, 2016, 2:26 pm
  2. One of my fave books, even if I always get the name wrong 🙂 I’ll have to find time to watch the documentary!

    Posted by setmeravelles | June 10, 2016, 9:22 am
  3. That was really interesting for all sorts of reasons, not least the arbitrary pig scene, and I wish I could discuss it over a glass of wine.

    Posted by C in Iowa | June 10, 2016, 12:56 am
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