Emilio García Gómez

Emilio García Gómez, 1st Count of Alixares (4 June 1905 – 31 May 1995) was a Spanish Arabist, literary historian and critic, whose talent as a poet enriched his many translations from Arabic.


Coat of Arms of 1st Count of Alixares

Emilio García Gómez decided to pursue Arabic as a career after attending Arabic language classes taught by Prof. Miguel Asín Palacios at the Complutense University of Madrid. He had been a student of law. In his Arabic studies he was mentored by the professors Julián Ribera y Tarragó, and by Asín.

Recipient of a scholarship to Cairo he studied there under Prof. Ahmad Zaki Pasha and the Egyptian writer Taha Husayn. His doctoral thesis on the Alexander legend in the Maghrib won the Fastenrath Prize. In 1930 he became Professor of Arabic at the University of Granada, until he returned to Madrid in 1944.[1]

While living in Granada he had become friends with Manuel de Falla the classical music composer and with Federico García Lorca the poet, both aficionados of Flamenco.[2] Inspired by the translations of Gómez, García Lorca wrote his Diván de Tamarit. Here, the poet was not following in imitation of a traditional Arabic verse but rather paying it contemporary homage, García Gómez favorably observed.[3]

He was again in Egypt during 1947. The following year García Gómez spent in Damascus, Syria, where he was appointed to the Arabic Academy [Al-Majma' Al-Ilmi Al-Arabi], a notable distinction for a westerner. He gave lectures at the University of Cairo in 1951 during celebrations on its silver jubilee.

Later, he served as the Spanish Ambassador to various States in the Middle East, namely, Iraq (Baghdad), Lebanon (Beirut), and Turkey (Ankara), as well as to Afghanistan, during the years 1958 to 1969.[4]

Throughout his career, Emilio García Gómez was widely admired.[5] He would receive several prestigious academic and literary awards. He lived until he reached the age of ninety.

On 7 October 1994 García Gómez was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I and received the hereditary title conde de los Alixares (English: Count of Alixares). García Gómez died in 1995, and since he had no successors his title became extinct.


A major focus of his academic work was Arabic poetry, acting as a literary historian and critic as well as translator. As a Spanish Arabist, of course, he interpret Muslim culture generally. A. J. Arberry praised the "wide scholarship and literary judgement that has characterized Prof. Gómez's numerous contributions to Islamic studies."[6] In a series of articles published over many years, he developed a theory of the origin and development of the Andaluz Arabic muwashshahat genre of popular strophic verse, which is often sung. It is said to be related to the mozarabic jarchas (Arabic kharja) poetic form.[7]

His many translations of Arabic poetry were received with acclaim by the literary public, as well as by many Spanish poets, including Federico García Lorca,[8] and artists, e.g., Manuel de Falla. Particular mention may be made of his translation of Ibn Said al-Maghribi's 1243 anthology of poetry, the Pennants of the Champions, and of later translation of and commentary on the Andalusian poet and scholar Ibn Hazm (994–1064).[9] García Gómez also published a collection of his literary essays, Silla del Moro y nuevas escenas andaluzas, which drew on his experiences while living in Granada during the early thirties.[10]

Assisting two of his mentor professors, García Gómez edited shorter, more popular versions (though still rigorous) of the well-known tomes by Julián Ribera y Tarragó[11] and Miguel Asín Palacios[12] Later, he and Prof. Rafael Lapesa produced several articles on their teacher and elder Miguel Asín Palacios.[13]

After returning from his travels to the Middle East in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he published (under the title Los Días) his translation of the Egyptian writer Taha Husayn's recent autobiographical work Al-Ayyam.[14] In 1955 he translated another modern work of Arabic literature, about an Egyptian rural prosecutor.[15]

Though his main academic work was in Arabic poetry, he also approached the social issues involved in understanding the Islamic presence in medieval Spain. García Gómez collaborated with the French historian Évariste Lévi-Provençal in editing and translating an anonymous chronicle written in medieval Córdoba when under the rule of the Caliph 'Abd al-Rahman III. He also translated into Spanish Lévi-Provençal's well known history of Muslim Spain.[16] For the first volume he wrote a prologue commenting on the significance of the Muslim period in Spanish history, where he refers approvingly to the work of Américo Castro.[17]

In his later years García Gómez labored on the various facets of the literary events surrounding the Alhambra, an architectural gem, site of the government offices and the residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada, where the Islamic presence lingered the longest.


  1. ^ James T. Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship (Leiden: Brill 1970, Reprint Cambridge: ILEX Editions/Harvard University Press 2021) at 202–203, 206.
  2. ^ Both de Falla and García Lorca were involved in the Flamenco revival Concurso y Fiesta del Cante Jondo held in Granada in 1922. Cf., Eduardo Molina Fajardo, Manuel de Falla y el "Cante Jondo" (Universidad de Granada 1998).
  3. ^ García Gómez, "Nota al Divan del Tamarit" {1934} in Silla del Moro y Nuevas Escenas Andaluas (1948, 1954) at 88–92, 92; Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship at 204–206
  4. ^ The Emilio García Gómez Article at the Spanish Wikipedia site.
  5. ^ E.g., Ángel Valbuena Prat, Historia de la literatura española (Barcelona, 6th ed., 1960) at vol. 3: 784–786, cited by Monroe at 218; Gerald Brennan, The Literary History of the Spanish People (Cambridge Univ. 1951, 2nd ed. 1953, reprint Meridian 1957) at 21, 454.
  6. ^ A. J. Arberry, Moorish Poetry (Cambridge 1953) at ix–x.
  7. ^ Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship at 203, 210, 213–219. In general, see: Benjamin M. Liu and James T. Monroe, Ten Hispano-Arabic Strophic Songs in the Modern Oral Tradition (Univ. of California 1989), e.g., at 6–9; and, Gerald Brennan, The Literary History of the Spanish People (1951, 1953) at 466–470. Ramon Menendez Pidal treats of the zejel (related strophic verse and music) in his Poesía árabe y poesía europea [1937] (1941, 1943, 1946) at 9–67.
  8. ^ Regarding García Lorca's Diván de Tamarit, see "Life" at note 3, here above.
  9. ^ El collar de la paloma [Dove's Neck Ring] (1952); cf. Monroe, at 212–213.
  10. ^ Madrid 1948, reprint Buenos Aires 1954; cf., Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship at 209, 218.
  11. ^ Ribera, La música de las Cantigas (Madrid 1922), edited by García Gómez as La música árabe y su influencia en la española (Madrid 1927, reprinted Madrid, Mayo de Oro, 1985).
  12. ^ Asín, La Escatologia musulmana en la "Divina Comedia" (Madrid 1919), edited by García Gómez as Dante y el Islam (Madrid 1927).
  13. ^ En el centanario del nacimiento de don Miguel Asín (1969); cf., his in Al Andalus 34: 460–469 (1969).
  14. ^ Taha Husein, Los Días (Valencia: Castalia 1954).
  15. ^ Tawfik al-Hakim, Diario de un fiscal rural (Madrid 1955); cited by Monroe at 214.
  16. ^ Lévi-Provençal, Espana musulmana hasta la caida del califato de Córdoba (711–1031 de J.C.) (2 volumes, Madrid, 1950, 1957) appearing as volumes 4 and 5 of the Historia de España as directed by Ramon Menéndez Pidal, translated from the original French by Emilio García Gómez.
  17. ^ Monroe, Islam and the Arabs in Spanish Scholarship at 210–212, 214.

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Un texto árabe occidental de la leyenda de Alejandro (Madrid 1929). Fastenrath Award
  • Poemas arábigoandaluces (Madrid 1930): a translation of Ibn Said's 13th century Pennants of the Champions. Translated into English by Franzen, Cola (1989). Poems of Arab Andalusia. San Francisco: City Lights Books. ISBN 978-0-87286-242-5. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) Translated into Arabic by Hussein Mones as Ash-Shi'r al-Andalusi (Cairo 2nd ed. 1956).
  • Qasidas de Andalucía, puestas en verso castellano (Madrid 1940).
  • Cinco poetas musulmanes (Madrid 1945).
  • El collar de la poloma, tratado sobre el amor y los amantes de Ibn Hazm de Cordoba (Madrid 1952), prologue by José Ortega y Gasset.
  • Poesía arábigoandaluza, breve síntesis histórica (Madrid 1952).
  • Silla del moro y nuevas escenas andaluzas (Madrid 1948, reprint Buenos Aires, Espasa-Calpe, 1954).
  • Las jarchas romances de la serie árabe en su marco (Madrid 1965).
  • Poemas árabes en los muros y fuentes de la Alhambra (Madrid 1985).
  • Poesías / Ibn Al-Zaqqāq ; edición y traducción en verso [del árabe] (Madrid 1986).
  • Foco de antigua luz sobre la Alhambra (Madrid 1988).


See alsoEdit

Spanish nobility
New creation Count of Alixares