Ali Smith Spring

Ali Smith's Spring, third book of the tetralogy

You can't cry because summer is starting, he says. I could understand that you cry for the arrival of winter. But for the summer?

I come to review Spring by Ali Smith a few weeks after finishing reading it to allow time, for the euphoria to pass and to really see the residue that the book leaves behind… In the end. I publish the review months after reading it and with a calmer vision and having read Fall, the Ali Smith classic. The review is a mix of impressions from months ago and now.

The first thing, although it is a cliché, applies here more than ever. It is not a book for everyone. It is a writing that we could call experimental. It had 70 pages and it was still not clear what the book was about. But I loved it. It's like watching a river make its way.

Primavera is the third volume of the tetralogy Seasonal Quartet by the Scottish Ali Smith (Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer). His best-known work is Autumn, although I started with Spring because I read it in the spring. Now I have read Autumn, which I review on the blog and perhaps because it is the author's first book, but I liked Spring much more than Autumn.

Edited by Nórdica Libros in a very careful edition, as is their custom, with a translation by Magdalena Palmer. It must have been a very complex translation.

The book is a harsh criticism of the Internment Centers for Foreigners in the United Kingdom and a great free reflection on immigration, coexistence and the problems that are generated.

And then he says the first thing that comes to mind, that he had always pictured the Mansfield she was telling him about as very Victorian, a demure and innocent skinny spinster.
Demure and innocent! says Paddy. mansfield!
He lets out a laugh.
Katherine Mnasfield Park says.
Richard laughs too, though he hasn't gotten the joke.

She was an adventurer, in every sense of the word, says Paddy. She is a sexual, aesthetic and social adventurer. She is a true world traveler. She experienced many kinds of love, she was very daring for her time. She was bold. She got pregnant who knows how many times, always by the wrong person; she married a virtual stranger so that her child by another man would be legitimate and then she suffered a miscarriage. Is that in the book?

The book is divided into three parts. The first talks about Dick and Paddy's relationship. The second is the work of a guard in one of the centers and internment and the third is the outcome of the schoolgirl (when you read it you will understand it)

an impetuous entrance

But if there is something that surprises, it is the strength of its first three pages. An allegation, manifesto, where it does not leave a puppet with a head. I recommend that you read it, even if you are not going to read the book. You can do it for free in this Nordic Books pdf

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What has happened to the good people of this country?

Indifference to the tragedies of others; from exhaustion, said Richard.

And shit, she said. Those people have a dead soul.

Racism, said Richard. legitimized. Legitimized division twenty-four hours a day in all the news and in all the newspapers, on countless screens, by the grace of the god of incessant new beginnings, the god we call the Internet

As I said, the first part, the one that has really fascinated me because of its style, is the least critical of immigration. Where the subject is least talked about. But the style is… it's like when someone very lively who knows a lot about a topic (or about all topics) starts telling a story and skips it with random anecdotes about any related topic. It has really impacted me. I consider this first part a work of art, although I understand that it may overwhelm you if you are looking for a conventional reading.

Don't call it an immigration crisis, Paddy said. I've told you a thousand times. Just people. He is a person, an individual person who crosses the world with everything against him. Multiply that by sixty million, all individual people, all traversing the world against all odds in conditions that worsen by the day. Immigration crisis. And you are the son of a migrant.

In the second part we see how the Foreign Internment Centers (CIE) work through the day to day of a security guard (ACD) of one of them. They are centers where it is assumed that a person cannot be held for more than two days, and instead there are people confined for years.

On page 129 and 141 there is a list of a series of facts that he says that the worker learned and it is a direct stab to the heart of these organizations showing all their shame, freedoms and rights that are violated.

In the third part, he tells us the outcome of the schoolgirl through her journey. She is an important character that I don't want to give more information about so as not to reveal anything important about the plot. But it is where all the characters are related in an unlikely situation.

A character

You can't read this book without falling in love with Paddy, a secondary character with such strength that every time he appears, your reading lights up.

Origin of Candlemas

At one point in the text this is told

In the Highlands of Scotland, when traditions were followed much more than now, it was the month in which candles -candles- were lit to call the sun back to earth (origin of Candlemas); at this time of year the girls fashioned figures out of the last sheaves of the last corn harvest, placed their creations in a cradle, and danced around it singing about the return of life, the awakening of snakes from their nests, the return of of birds, about Saint Bride, or Brigi, or Bridget of Kildare, patron saint of, among many other things, Ireland, fertility, the spring season, pregnant women, blacksmiths and poets, cows and milkmaids, sailors and boatmen, midwives and illegitimate children. She is a version of Brid, the Celtic god of fire, in whose honor bonfires were lit; He also blessed wells and sacred fountains whose waters are still considered to have healing powers, especially for the eyes.


Interesting authors and books mentioned. Always Paddy.

  • Katherine Mnasfield Park
  • tacit dean The Monfaton Letter, 2017 chalk on blackboard, 366 x 732 cm
  • Dean Bless our Europe cup (triptych), gouache spray chalk and charcoal on slate 122 x 151,5 cm

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