Jan Gordon's Introduction to "...As Beggars, Tramp Through Spain"

"...As Beggars, Tramp Through Spain," published in 1927 has an introduction by Jan Gordon.

Gordon concludes that "Mrs. Gordon and I, travelling across Spain with our donkey-cart, thought we had come into a fairly close contact with the Spanish people, but we are ready to admit that the Count and Countess Malmignati have gone far deeper than we did. Here is a new Lazarillo de Tormes and a Beggar's Opera with song and dance complete."




Gordon observes that since the war, the "newly-admitted pluck of women has been turned to exploration, and women travellers have shown themselves the equal of men in daring resourcefulness and energy, astonishing to the wild peoples amongst whom they have travelled."

He notes the attempted journey to reach the "Ruba-El-Kali" in 1914 (which was commented upon in 1926 by the explorer H. St. J. B. Philby), the story of which was published by the countess in 1925 as "Across the Inner Deserts to Medina." After marrying the Italian Count Malmignati, the couple moved to Spain, where "the Countess's unfailing zest for adventure led into many an odd escapade which culminated with the one described in this book."

Gordon also tells an entertaining story about the Count, "an officer in the Italian army, but having retired on coming into his inheritance set off on a trip through Spain and Spanish America." In Mexico City he was dared to face a bull at the Circulo Taurino, which ended with the Count being struck by the bull's forehead and thrown up between the horns.

"Doushka" (though "Moushka" in this much-syndicated article *) and "Gusti" Malmignati then set off on their journey, in response to a bet that they would not follow the example of a "Russian countess who had gone about with a companion dressed as a gypsy and earning her bread in a gipsy way."

The Manchester Guardian's (1928, January 6th) New Books review notes the following about "...As Beggars, Tramp through Spain":

"... AS BEGGARS TRAMP THROUGH SPAIN, by Count and Countess Malmignati, edited with an introduction, by Jan Gordon (Jonathan Cape, pp. 285, 7s. 6d. net), is a story of adventures rather than a description of a country or people. As the result of a wager, the authors plod to Alicante, Denia, and Murcia, earning comparatively rich harvests by dancing and singing in occasional casinos ; at other times, hunted by the populace, they avoid villages to beg at outlying farmhouses, sleep with carabineros, and pilfer melons to stay their hunger. They suffer an amount of discomfort disproportionate to any stake, one would think ; indeed, the recital of their experiences has moved one reader already to put into words the Torre-vieja consul's "unspoken comment" and fervently exclaim, "Rather they than I.""

* The Countess seemed to use a number of names, e.g. Countess Guerini Malmignati ("Through Spain in disguise, Wide World Magazine, 23 November 1927), but also Countess Molitor. Could the name Malmignati have been adopted from the earlier Count Pietro Perolari Malmignati, I wonder? 

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