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The pioneer of Spanish feminism: Concepción Arenal

The pioneer of Spanish feminism: Concepción Arenal

By Isidoro Laso

It’s well known that Spanish people often forget their most relevant figures in favour of foreign ones. As we have written in the previous entry, Mary Wollstonecraft stands out for being a deep thinker about feministic ideas. But we have an activist we can’t ever forget: Concepción Arenal. This is the first woman we can say that worked (in a modern feminism context) to get better social conditions for women and writes a lot about this important matter (and not only for women, also for poor and imprisoned people and children).

ºArenal was born in Ferrol, Galicia, in 1820 and died in 1893. She was one of the first women who was able to attend A University in Spain. Her father stood out for his opposition to the regime of Ferdinand VII, probably the worst king that Spain has ever had.

When she started attending University she was forced to wear masculine attire. She married and had three children. In 1859 she founded a feminist group called Conference of Saint Vincent of Paul, whose mission was to help poor people. In 1861 the Academy of Moral Sciences and Politics awarded her a prize for one of her works, titled Beneficence, philanthropy and Charity. It was the first time the Academy gave a prize for a woman. Some of her works are devoted to this matter, as Letters to delinquents (1865) or Convicts, the people and the executioner (1867). She always manifested against the death penalty.

She was named Inspector of Women’s Correctional Houses in 1871. Her achievements were outstanding in a largely traditional Spain, focusing always on those marginalised in society.

Her feminism and philanthropic activity can be considered grounded in really Spanish roots, due to the fact that she was always inspired by catholic principles of charity. In spite of these inspirations she was always considered as an heterodox by traditionalist catholic people.

Her works has made her as the founder of the feminism movement in Spain, aside her intense commitment activity in improving the bad conditions of women and helpless people in general. These are some examples: The Woman of the Future, The Education of Women, The current State of Women in Spain, The work of Women, The Women of the House and Domestic Service.

Spanish suffragism: Clara Campoamor

Spanish suffragism: Clara Campoamor.

By Isidoro Laso

Born in Madrid in 1888, this outstanding woman posses the honor to have been the key in order to get the women vote right in the II Republic.

Her value is even higher if we take into that she had a story full of overcoming many obstacles and played a crucial role in drafting of the Spanish Constitution of 1931.

But she had to start working at age 13, as a seamstress, so she wasn’t able to study then. The reason was due to her father’s death. Despite this circumstance, she tried to keep studying and, when she was 32, she started High School studies. She worked as French translator, as a typist for the government and other jobs related to Public Service until 1924. This year she got her degree in Law in the University of Madrid, at 36 years old, and she began working as advocate in the court. She immediately showed great performance in her job, proving a huge talent and intelligence.

She got improvements to the child labour laws in 1927. In 1931 she stood for a seat in the Constituent Assembly that would write a new Constitution for the new republic. Besides this, she became a co-founder of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, founded in 1928 in Paris.

She followed a guideline in their argumentation facing the opposition of many of her male parliamentarians colleges refusing women the right of voting: “Exclusion of women from voting is a violation of natural law”, she said, in the sense that it was not possible to justify that only men could pass laws without women while women had to accept passively the consequences of this “masculine shape” laws in their lives. Clara Campoamor was convinced that only the women vote would be able to give an effective empowering to women, finishing with paternalism or merely the negligence of men.
In the end, Spanish women could firs vote in 1933. In 1934 She was appointed Director of Public Welfare.

But she had to flee the country and settled in Laussane due to the Civil War in 1936. He wasn’t able to return to Spain after the war and died in 1972 in exile. Her ashes were repatriated and now are buried in San Sebastián.


Ce sont des bandes dessinées créées par le dessinateur suisse Philippe Chappuis plus connu comme Zep.

Elles racontent l’histoire d’un jeune garçon nommé Titeuf et de la vision qu’il a des attitudes et institutions des adultes. Un peu de critique sous les yeux d’un enfant presque adolescent.

Plus tard, la série est adaptée en série d’animation d’un total de 250 épisodes, puis en film intitulé Titeuf, le film le 6 avril 2011.

En Espagne vous la trouverez sur Boing.

Je vous conseille vivement sa lecture, elle rappelle parfois aux histories de Mafalda de Quino.
* Curiosité:

Est-ce que vous savez quelle est l’origine du nom du protagoniste?
Cela fait réference à sa tête et sa touffe blonde ( cheveux ) : petit oeuf ( huevo pequeño )



Le Petit Nicolas est une œuvre de littérature pour la jeunesse écrite de 1955 à 1965 par René Goscinny. On peut trouver de courts récits dans lesquels se mêlent l’humour et la tendresse de l’enfance.
Les aventures du Petit Nicolas mettent en scène un petit garçon dans un environnement urbain pendant les années 1960. Le personnage y livre ses pensées intimes grâce à un langage enfantin créé par Goscinny et les thèmes sont, avant tout, ceux de l’enfance (la camaraderie, les disputes, les rapports avec la maîtresse d’école, les premières amourettes,…) mais l’auteur parle également du monde complexe des adultes : l’éducation, les disputes familiales, les rapports entre voisins, la rélation du père avec son patron, etc.
Ces récits entrecoupés d’illustrations ne comptent que quelques pages et sont généralement indépendants les uns des autres, bien que parfois Nicolas cite une anecdote d’une histoire précédente. L’ensemble de l’œuvre peut être lue sans ordre particulier.
Le style enfantin de la narration fait curieuse et passionante sa lecture.

En 2009 est sorti Le petit Nicolas, un film de Laurent Tirard qui rassemble plusieurs éléments de différentes histoires. Un deuxième film, Les Vacances du petit Nicolas, est sorti en juillet 2014.
Une série télévisée d’animation, Le Petit Nicolas, est diffusée à partir de septembre 2009 sur M6.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Today, let me introduce you to one of the greatest American authors ever: Mark Twain. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name  Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist.

He wrote some famous novels such as «The Adventures of Tom Sawyer», and the novel I have chosen for you in this entry: «The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn»which is considered » The Great American Novel».

One of its main features is that was  written in vernacular English and its pages are full of local words and expressions. It is told in first person by the main character, «Huck» Finn,  a brave and poor boy who lost his mother and is brought up by his drunk and violent father.

The novel is popular for its descriptions of people and places along the Mississippi River as well as for being a satire of several attitudes, particularly racism.

At the beginning of the story, Huck explains how he is placed under the guardianship of the Widow Douglas, who is attempting to «sivilize» him and teach him religion.  Huck finds civilized life confining and everything changes when he meets the runaway slave called Jim.

The rest of the novel is a succession of unforgettable adventures that you should read if you want to spend a good time. I am sure you will become a great admirer of Huckleberry Finn´s wisdom and bravery.



American Gods

I know many of you like reading fantasy novels, so I would like to recommend you a novel titled «American Gods» written in 2001 by Neil Gaiman. Perhaps you have ever heard about this author because he has written other popular works such as «Stardust» and «The Sandman».

«American Gods» won some prestigious fantasy  novel awards like Hugo and Nebula. The novel is a blend of fantasy and ancient and modern mythology. Apart from the main character, the mysterious and taciturn Shadow, there are other characters who personify ancient Gods such as Odin or Horus as well as «modern» Gods like TV, Internet, etc.

The central premise of the novel is that Gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. The immigrants who arrived to the United States brought with them those spirits and Gods. However, the power of these divine beings has diminished as people’s beliefs are vanishing. New Gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among others. A war between both sides, Ancient and New Gods, is about to begin. Who will win and prevail?

At the beginning of every chapter, the author includes some short stories, independent from the main plot, about different topics:  the first Viking explorers to come to America, slaves from Africa who populate the Caribbean Islands and America with their tribal gods and so forth.

Don´t you think it sounds interesting? Read it and tell me your opinion! The Gods will reward you for sure!



Ce thriller de Yann Gozlan vient de sortir en France le 18 mars. Film très réussi tant pour son thème que le rôle de Pierre Niney, son acteur principal: Il est le plus jeune comédien français ( 26 ans ) à avoir reçu le César du meilleur acteur 2014 pour le film Yves Saint-Laurent

Mathieu est un jeune écrivain de vingt-cinq ans qui aspire depuis toujours à devenir un auteur reconnu. Un rêve qui lui semble inaccessible car malgré tous ses efforts, il n’a jamais réussi à être édité. En attendant, il gagne sa vie en travaillant chez son oncle qui dirige une société de déménagement… Son destin bascule le jour où il tombe par hasard sur le manuscrit d’un vieil homme solitaire qui vient de décéder. Mathieu hésite avant finalement de s’en emparer, et de signer le texte de son nom… Devenu le nouvel espoir le plus en vue de la littérature française, et alors que l’attente autour de son second roman devient chaque jour plus pressante, Mathieu va plonger dans une spirale mensongère et criminelle pour préserver à tout prix son secret…

Cette histoire est une reprise du film américain de 2012 “The Words”, un Bradley Cooper à la française, et il rend hommage aux films du maïtre du suspense Alfred Hitchcock.
Je vous recommends vivement de plonger dans cette histoire inquiètante et y réfléchir.


Un poisson d’avril est une plaisanterie que l’on fait le premier avril à des amis. Il est aussi habituel de faire des blagues dans les médias, aussi bien presse écrite, radio, télévision que sur Internet.
Pour les enfants, il consiste à accrocher un poisson de papier dans le dos des personnes dont on veut se moquer. « Poisson d’avril ! » est aussi l’exclamation que l’on pousse une fois qu’une des plaisanteries est découverte.
Les origines du poisson d’avril restent obscures mais la tradition festive de personnes qui sont l’objet de farces ou de satires existe dans plusieurs cultures depuis l’Antiquité et le Moyen-Âge.
Une première explication relie le poisson d’avril à la Pâques, qui marque la fin du jeûne et du caême, le poisson prenant une place alimentaire importante à cette période.
Une autre origine viendrait de l’usage dans différents pays d’ouvrir la saison de pêche le 1er avril.
Plusieurs usages semblent s’être en fait mélangés avec celui du carnaval: ilfluence des fêtes antiques, sortie du signe zodiacal des Poissons (dernier signe de l’hiver et dernier signe zodiacal), prolongement la période du carême où il n’est permis de manger que du poisson.


Et dans les autres pays ? La tradition de la blague du 1er avril, au départ occidentale, s’est peu à peu diffusée. Elle s’exprime de différentes manières en fonction des pays. En Angleterre, par exemple, le 1er avril est l’ «April’s fool day». Les farces ne se font que le matin et si vous êtes piégé, vous êtes «une nouille».
Il existe en Espagne et en Amérique Latine une fête comparable, qui tombe cependant le 28 décembre. C’est le « Massacre des Innocents » ou « jour des saints innocents » (día de los santos inocentes ou día de los inocentes), qui commémore le massacre des enfants de Bethléem de moins de deux ans ordonné par Hérode (selon l’évangile de Matthieu 2-16). Croisé avec des rites païens comme la fête des Fous, il est devenu le jour des plaisanteries, à la manière du premier avril. C’est un petit personnage de papier que l’on accroche au dos des personnes dont on veut se moquer.
En Inde, cette fête s’appelle Holi. Elle a lieu généralement en mars ou en avril. Elle dépend du calendrier hindou.

I Concurso lector

Estimados alumnos y alumnas,

Os informo de que el departamento de Lengua castellana y Literatura y la Biblioteca del IES Pedro Jiménez Montoya han convocado el I Concurso de Lectura. Uno de los aspectos que se tendrán en cuenta para elegir a los ganadores será la calidad y cantidad de comentarios que realicéis en este blog, así como el demostrar haber leído algunas de las obras que aquí os hemos aconsejado.

A continuación os comunico los detalles:


1- Podrán participar todos los alumnos de Enseñanza secundaria del centro.

2- Habrá dos categorías: A «Lector versado»- para aquellos alumnos que ya tienen hábito lector, de lo que dará fe su profesor actual de Lengua y Literatura. B «Lector novel» – para aquellos alumnos que se inicien en la lectura con asiduidad a partir de este curso. De ello dará testimonio su profesor actual de Lengua y Literatura.

3- Constará de dos fases: a) Proceso evaluador por cada profesor del Departamento en sus grupos correspondientes (preguntar a vuestros profesores de Lengua y Literatura por el resto de detalles)       b) En la tercera semana de mayo, una comisión formada por miembros del departamento evaluará las grabaciones presentadas por el alumnado seleccionado en la fase anterior.

4- Premios: A cada uno de los ganadores se le entregará un vale de treinta euros para canjear en una librería, tienda de deportes o material informático, junto a un DIPLOMA como reconocimiento.

Los ganadores serán anunciados en la tercera semana del mes de junio.

¡No lo dudéis y participad!


A brilliant pioneer: Mary Wollonstencraft

This entry is a mere translation (and to some extent an excerpt) into English of a previous entry published in the blog Apeiron by two former students of mine: Esmeralda Cañadas and María Martínez. You can see this entry here in Spanish. (I hope they don’t mind my recycling of it and don’t ask me for copyright).

Mary Wollstonecraft was born on April 27th in 1759 in Spitalfields, England. Although her family had a reasonable amount of money and good incomes, her father wasted all his fortune when she was still a child. That’s why she had to make a living by herself al 17, first as a nurse and then as a governess and a dressmaker among other jobs. At the same time, she started writing and stood out for her intelligence. She lived in Ireland, France and England and she could often be seen in several circles composed of artists, writers and philosophers. She was against marriage but this circumstance didn’t prevent her from having two daughters from two different men. Her second daughter, Mary Shelley, is considered a great writer in English literature; among some others works she wrote the novel Frankenstein or The modern Prometheus. Her last name comes from the great English writer Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was her husband. But, let’s get back to Mary Wollonstencraft.


She is considered a great figure of the Modern World, especially for her role as a pioneer in the field of Women Rights, through her work A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, written in 1792, a very unusual time to publish this kind of matter in the terms she wrote. (I expect to develop the awesome conservatism of the Enlightenment philosophies about Women Rights in a next entry I’m planning to do about Marquis of Condorcet, the only important man writer who wrote in favor of equal treatment towards women).

Her worries about women in the time in which she lived were not only thoughts from a brilliant inteligence but they were based on her life and her experiences. Especially the mistreatment suffered by her mother when her father drank.
The guideline of her arguments is that women weren’t inferior to men. They often seemed inferior due to their education. So, if the education were the same for men and women all the differences would peter out and we could see the plain thruth: we, women and men, are equal and, therefore, we should be equal before the law.

The following is a fragment of Mary’s work that I’ve mentioned above:

“The education of women has, of late, been more attended to than formerly; yet they are still reckoned a frivolous sex, and ridiculed or pitied by the writers who endeavour by satire or instruction to improve them. It is acknowledged that they spend many of the first years of their lives in acquiring a smattering of accomplishments; meanwhile strength of body and mind are sacrificed to libertine notions of beauty, to the desire of establishing themselves […] by marriage”.

(A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol 2, p. 216)

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I can’t help a feeling while I am copying these words – by the way they are written in wonderful direct and thoughtful style- if these words still make any sense nowadays. Well, I am thinking about advertising and the issue of fashion… all the attempts of publicity that are aimed at women as a market targer. What would Mary Wollenstencraft tell us about the cult of beauty in which a lot of women – many men too- are involved?