On 12 February the new Joan Graves Biblioteca will open its doors in Deia. Whoever came up with the idea at the Deia Town Hall is to be congratulated. Juan (I’ve always called him this) was much loved in the village, both by the Deianencs and the expat community. The Biblioteca is a fitting tribute to Juan and the Graves family’s place in Deia life.
But it has to be said that Juan was not the most literary of gents. I was impressed that he appeared not to have read any of the books in which he featured. Then again, why would he? He knew who he was.
Juan did, however, devour the Mojo music magazines I occasionally bought him from England. As a convert from the moment he first heard the music and a devotee of the Beatles, Juan thoroughly enjoyed rock and roll archeology. But his reading was really of a different kind.
I went on a couple of walks in the mountains around Deia with Juan. It was a joy to listen to him as he told me the names of different plants and birds and gave me the real story of the landscape I so often walked through in a daydream. Deia wasn’t an idea for Juan, it was where he lived.
A literary resource for Deia
One of the most pleasurable literary experiences I’ve ever had was spending a couple of days in the reading library of the American Legation in Tangier. I was doing research into the expat scene of the City of the Dream around Paul Bowles and William Burroughs. The Legation’s library has a collection of books and periodicals it would be impossible to find elsewhere.
Part of my mission with this blog (without being too pretentious) is to explore Deia’s literary history. Enlightening you, dear reader, to some of the more obscure writers, poets and books you may not otherwise have come across. So, for me, the new Joan Graves Biblioteca represents a great opportunity to build a collection of Deia-related literature along the lines of the American Legation library in Tangier.
This could span everything from Gravesiana, the magazine that publishes scholarly articles about Robert Graves and members of his circle, to books set in Deia like Edna O’Brien’s mighty strange The High Road. I’m sure authors who’ve written about Deia would love to have their work in a permanent collection in the village.
A permanent collection would attract scholars to the village to do research and perhaps inspire all manner of literary events. It would also offer another way for tourists to learn more about the real story of the village and the community Juan was part of. I, for one, would love to see the Joan Graves Biblioteca become such a resource.
So the Joan Graves Biblioteca is to be welcomed. And hopefully there will be space for a shelf of books about Juan’s beloved Beatles. The Johnny Caprini Collection?
If you’re free on 12 February, do come along to the Joan Graves Biblioteca. Proceedings will be kicked off by music from David Templeton and Juan’s brother Tomás which will no doubt include some of Juan’s favourite numbers. David is also the artist who allowed his wonderful drawing of Juan and atmospheric photo to be used for this post. Thanks again, David.
Incidentally, or perhaps not, when I contacted William Graves to find out more about the Biblioteca he told me that, as of Monday 1 February, the post on the Facebook page of La Casa De Robert Graves had received 18,000 hits which is remarkable.
Deia Town Hall