Book of books – Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Linking in with the current reading books both fiction and non-fiction relating to the Spanish Civil War will be posted for the next couple of days starting with this one.
A personal account of the Spanish Civil War and his experience fighting for the socialists (anti-Franco) side. Like a large number of people who romanticised the cause for freedom Orwell went to fight for justice as he saw it and beat the fascists in the form of Franco and his help from Hitler. Maybe the socialists were always doomed because they couldn’t compete with the support Franco was getting from abroad but the frustration Orwell feels at the infighting between communists and anarchists provides another explanation that goes towards explaining why Franco was able to win.
is it well written?
It’s hard to have a pop at Orwell who was not only a journalist but able to produce classics like 1984 and Animal Farm but the only criticism would be that sometimes it is hard to follow all of the groups involved with their acronyms and different takes on the socialist spectrum. Mind you the sense of frustration and vagueness is of course part of the feeling he is trying to get across. As he says in the book: “there was much in it I did not understand.”
Should it be read?
Not something you would run out and buy unless you had an interest in the Spanish Civil War or George Orwell. Those people who are Orwell readers would probably be satisfied with Animal Farm and 1984. This is a book that is in the style of a hack writing so it is a bit like reportage and it shows how he can weave a story out of the moment and you do end up sharing his frustration and boredom and wondering what on earth it is all in aid of. This is a ‘classic’ according to Penguin and deserves to be read but not as a first port of call on a voyage into Orwell’s world.
Apart from Animal Farm and 1984 in this style of reportage living it for real is Down and out in Paris and London which is also a pretty quick and easy read.
Version – penguin Classics range