Back to Index

Orwell's Homage to Catalonia



There was a sharp disagreement recently among WAISers about the accuracy and merits of Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. I reported that I had given a copy to a Catalan friend, a Catholic conservative who had fought with the Franco forces in the conquest of Catalonia. I was surprised by his abrupt answer: "That's not the way it was". A comment by John Heelan explains everything. My friend owns a bookstore in Catalonia, and he must have been embarrassed when I gave him the original uncensored English version:

"WAISers might find interested the following comments on the way the Catalan version of the book was censored.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From the "NB" column written by "J.C."
Times Literary Supplement of February 23, 2000.

'How does George Orwell go down in Catalonia? Pretty well, if we judge by the popularity of Homage to Catalonia, now in its seventh edition. The book was not popular with Franco, who only allowed it to be published in the early 1970s, in a distorted version. Where Orwell wrote "Fascist" , for example, the censor changed it to "pro-Franco" or "nationalist". A paragraph describing Franco as "a puppet of Italy or Germany" was cut. Orwell's contention that "appalling lies about atrocities were being circulated by pro-Fascist press", was modified by the Catalan translator to read:" great exaggerations about the atrocities that the Republic committed were being circulated'.

Routine stuff in Franco's Spain. However this edition is still the one on sale in Barcelona bookshops. "

My comment: This recalls the experience of Burnett Bolloten, whose great impartial work on the Civil War was published in translation in Barcelona is a similarly "edited" edition. Burnett was terribly sensitive to leftist charges that he was pro-Franco. He was unhappy until, after Franco, an accurate translation was published- Traduttore tyraditore".

Ronald Hilton - 2/26/01


Webmaster