Penguin Books Ltd, London, United Kingdom
30th Mar 2000
w 131mm h 198mm d 15mm
'Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism as I understand it'. Thus wrote Orwell following his experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War, chronicled in "Homage to Catalonia". Here he brings to bear all the force of his humanity, passion and clarity, describing with bitter intensity the bright hopes and cynical betrayals of that chaotic episode.
A history, published in Britain shortly after the author wrote it in 1937, of the few months surrounding the Barcelona Telephone Exchange riots and what the writer determines as the Communist betrayal of all of Spain's anti-fascist forces. The crux of Orwell's writing is to show the ridiculous misrepresentations of the actual happenings in Barcelona and on the front and their meaning for the rest of Spain. The Communists were joined with the Government. Another anti-fascist faction was the P.O.U.M. or anarchist militia. They were closely allied with socialist worker movements, ready to build up a workers' revolution. In the beginning when issues were but hazily defined, Orwell joined the P.O.U.M. and fought with them- at the front. The Communists, considering anarchist-socialist revolutionary policies as presumptive, sought successfully to purge the P.O.U.M. and rendered them through messy journalism, coercive police methods, withdrawal of arms, false reports- as Trotskyists, pro-Franco, anything but the potent patriotic force they were. Thus republican Spain lost a power that could have helped beat Franco. Orwell's report is as exciting as it is meditative. With his quiet exactitude the midnight skirmishes, the political issues, and the utter futility of war come clearly into focus. Perhaps not a book to create sensation in a day when much of what happened at Barcelona has been realized, but one enlightening in terms of showing the war way toward mutual understanding and fair play. (Kirkus Reviews)
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