- Hardcover: 182 pages
- Publisher: Benediction Classics (November 6, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781849025973
- ISBN-13: 978-1849025973
- ASIN: 1849025975
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 364 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Homage to Catalonia
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"I wonder what is the appropriate first action when you come from a country at war and set foot on peaceful soil. Mine was to rush to the tobacco-kiosk and buy as many cigars and cigarettes as I could stuff into my pockets." Most war correspondents observe wars and then tell stories about the battles, the soldiers and the civilians. George Orwell--novelist, journalist, sometime socialist--actually traded his press pass for a uniform and fought against Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War during 1936 and 1937. He put his politics and his formidable conscience to the toughest tests during those days in the trenches in the Catalan section of Spain. Then, after nearly getting killed, he went back to England and wrote a gripping account of his experiences, as well as a complex analysis of the political machinations that led to the defeat of the socialist Republicans and the victory of the Fascists. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
An unrivalled picture of the rumours, suspicions and treachery of civil war -- Anthony Beevor A war story that is both brutally honest and lyrically beautiful * Daily Telegraph * --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
What stays with you are the details of living in trenches, searches for tobacco, and moments of grim humor. I'm advised that the "National Review" (hardly a paradigm for leftist sympathies) once called "Homage" one of the three most important books of the 20th century. It may not be quite that good, but it will do until we figure out three better.
Me, well one of the things I didn't like about Orwell's Spain and the POUM in particular was that their mascot, a dog, was branded -- yes, branded -- with the letters P O U M burnt large on his hide. Makes you wonder: Who would brand a dog? Socialism's not for them, I suspect. But then, of course, what would you expect in a country which has as its great entertainment, the ritual public torture and killig of cattle?
But this book does not flinch. This is a great documentary of the Spanish Civil war because this man went there only intending to watch, but joined in mostly without thinking, and kept notes throughout. (Got 'imself seriously wounded too, for 'is trouble.) Shortly after leaving Spain he transcribed those notes into the book before you.
NOTE: Days later, after reading and reviewing this book I began reading it again very carefully, to check my first impression, and CATALONIA seems to me an even better book than I thought originally. That Orwell participates in the action and maintains his objectivity is phenomenal. It is impossible to imagine Hemmingway with all his vainglory, doing anything comparable. Some say Orwell was a great writer, some say he wasn't, but he himself wouldn't have wasted any time on that. You can't call Orwell a stylist, precisely. What you find when you read his work, is a sincere man writing in good English, without tricks.
"It is difficullt to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or uconsciously everyone writes as a partisan. In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now; betware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events."
He has the skill his education gave him, but the remainder derives from the decency of his character. Orwell was a disciplined writer with high principles who never blew smoke up anybody's dress.
Re-reading now, I came to realize suddenly that I read this book long ago; probably in High School, and either skipped over his description of the political causes of the war, or read them and simply didn't understand them. Now I understand: The Trotskyites were only those individuals who sought to practice that kind of humanist social collectivism he espoused when he was one of the Party's leading thinkers and writers; in other words, the true Revolutionaries. The Spanish Communists were comitted to a universalist totalitarian collective throughout Europe, directed from Moscow by Stalin. The later collaborated with the Spanish Fascists to eat the Trotsky-Socialists. It was typical of the brief Nazi-Soviet alliance that devoured Poland. (Stalin had Trotsky assassinated, later.) Soon, Franco, copying Napoleon's tactics, would sweep over Spain with his own mercenary army of North Africans, and devour the Spanish Comunists too.
I recommend the book not because of its political posture -- whatever that may be (Orwell was Labor. What does that mean today?) -- for Orwell has no propaganda angle. Does he? Or does he? You have to figure it out for yourself.
The military affair was gritty and chaotic, and Orwell repeatedly observes that Spanish inefficiencies in the ability to conduct military campaigns was something of a godsend. Poorly equipped, wallowing in filth and lacking even modest provisions, Orwell's unit forged ahead with its vague orders. He dedicates significant space to his reverance for his unit and comrades and makes a point of it to relate details of combat and life at the front to the character of the Spanish people. He also humbly points to his own misadventures as a soldier which readers will likely interpret as quite courageous and inspiring.
The political side of the book reads much like the retelling of life at the front. Orwell doesn't use the homage to make a political point; he is more concerned with comparing what he saw to what was reported, often in great detail, while confessing that it still can't possibly clarify the confusion of the politics of that time and place as much as debunk some of the obviously false accounts of the crisis written from desks far removed from the area. In other words, if you're looking for an op-ed this isn't anything of the sort. It's more a foundation for his later "greater" works of fiction. One thing is clear, however, and that is that Orwell has contempt for attitudes of authoritarianism and reverance for egalitarianism. He ultimately leaves Spain more out of necessity than desire. Clearly he wished he could have done more to fight off the eventual tide of fascism that eventually prevailed.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who's interested in Orwell's biography or the anarchist uprising in eastern Spain. It's candid and not jaded in the least. And the author is clearly struggling to tell a true story of an experience rather than express an opinion of these incredible events.
One curious thing to note about this Indo-European Publishing edition: the book makes a point to credit Alfred Aghajanian as the proofreader, but it is the most poorly proof-read book I've ever read (starting with the first word of the book: "CHPATER"). Readers will have to struggle through proofreading errors on almost every page and do their own interpretation of this amateurish edition. It might be worth looking to another publishing source for the same story, which is a highly worthwhile read.
Most recent customer reviews
political times along with animal farm and 1984.