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SPAIN: The Civil War



It is amazing that the war of words about the Spanish Civil War still goes on. The distinguished WAIS historian of modern Spain Paul Preston wrote a piece for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives on the bibliography of the Spanish Civil War. He regretted that Orwell's Homage to Catalonia was the best-selling book on it. I suppose Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls was not included because it is fiction. Stephen Schwarts, who is more of an activist scholar, angrily denounced this assessment of Orwell in unWAIS terms. Sitting in WAIS judgment, I am puzzled. As I relate in my book on my experiences, I was viewed by a Catholic conservative Catalan family as almost a member. When I returned to Barcelona after the Civil War, I made a present of the Orwell book to one of the sons who had fought with the Franco forces that took Barcelona. He read it and his abrupt comment surprised me: "That's not the way it was." His views on the Civil War were similar to those of Stephen Schwartz, but their assessment of Orwell is poles apart. There are several WAISers in Spain, including some in Catalonia. What do they think of Orwell?

Ronald Hilton - 2/14/01


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