The submerged library that Félix Romeo devised as a protest against the Lechago reservoir becomes a reality

Ten years after the death of the writer Félix Romeo, a chest full of books will be submerged this Saturday in the waters of the Lechago reservoir. It is the submerged library that he proposed as a protest against the flooding of the village of Lechago due to the construction of a reservoir, which finally did not materialize because it was not flooded since the planned level of the reservoir was reduced.

Romeo’s father and all his paternal family are from Lechago and that is why he raised this action, which led to the creation of a library in this town that bears his name and is located in the multipurpose building of this hamlet that is part of the municipality of Calamocha in Teruel. Félix Romeo died on 7 September 2011 and the local library was inaugurated on 21 August 2012. Now, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his death, this action will be developed as a tribute to the writer.

One of the members of the association and coordinator of this initiative, Agustín Martín, explains that it will consist of submerging in the reservoir of Lechago, with the collaboration of the firefighters of the Diputación de Teruel, a kind of chest, although with a sphere or cylindrical shape, which will contain in its interior about 130 books, as well as other elements linked to culture, such as DVDs, paintings and drawings.

The member of the association has specified that there is no record of any library of this type throughout history. The initiative arose last January and between April and May letters have been sent to one or two hundred friends and people close to Romeo, who have mailed their contribution to the president of the Association Friends of Lechago, María Jesús Soriano, who has collected and catalogued this material.

When the works are introduced into the reservoir, the complete list of participants in this action will be announced, although Martín has already announced that the actors Antonio Resines and José Sacristán, the publisher Jorge Herralde, from Anagrama, and the writers Irene Vallejo and Luz Gabás have contributed books. Other cultural personalities who have joined the initiative were Antón Castro, Miguel Mena, Pepe Melero and Luis Alegre, as well as the residents of Lechago. They have also sent their own works by the painters José Luis Cano, Pepe Cerdá and Jorge Gay.

Martin recalled that Felix Romeo, in addition to being a writer, was a literary critic and director of the culture program ‘La Mandrake’, a period in which he lived in the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid, where “he had many contacts with people of culture, literature, film and music,” he said.

He also commented that initially they had planned to compile between 40 or 50 works, “but we have tripled”, with volumes “of all kinds”, both from close friends, as admirers and followers of his. It has gone from the initial idea of collecting contributions from a smaller group, to “open it up to everyone who wanted to participate,” he added.

It is planned to install, later, in the area, a panel explaining what the Submerged Library consists of and who is part of it, as well as the works included and the point where it will be deposited inside the reservoir.

A chest full of books and culture

As regards the kind of chest that will be introduced into the reservoir, it is being made by the sculptor José Azul, who called it ‘Love bomb for Felix’ because of its spherical shape and because inside “the explosive charge are books, culture, the tribute of friends and admirers of the writer,” said Agustín Martín.

The act in which it will be immersed will take place at 17:00 and it is part of the activities programmed in the cultural week of Lechago. It will be attended by the sculptor himself, the singer-songwriter Ángel Petisme, the writer, journalist and professor at the University of Zaragoza Luis Alegre, a native of Lechago, and the filmmaker Jonás Trueba, as well as representatives of the association and the City Council of Calamocha.

It will take place about 300 metres upstream from the dam, from the access ramp to the reservoir located in the old Palmero ravine, with direct access from the A-2512 road.

Firefighters from the DPT will navigate with a zodiac boat to the centre of the reservoir, where they will drop this Submerged Library, which will be hermetically sealed. Previously, the works will have been introduced, as well as the newspapers of the day “so that, in the future, when it is taken out of the reservoir, it will serve as a time capsule”, has exposed Martin. There will also be inside a review of all the books it contains.

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