Read Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell Lionel Trilling Online


In 1936 Orwell went to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s experiences. Introduction by Lionel Trilling....

Title : Homage to Catalonia
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ISBN : 9780156421171
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 232 Pages
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Homage to Catalonia Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-06-13 04:22

    This book is justly famous for its disillusioned account of how the Communist Party—in its eagerness to defeat Franco--betrayed the successful anarchist experiment in Catalonia for the sake of expedience, how it executed and imprisoned its anarchist and socialist comrades for the sake of a temporary alliance with the bourgeois. I found all this very interesting, but have to admit that the real reason I liked the book so much was for its gritty account of war on the cheap, where guns are poor, marksmanship is worse, and the lack of food, matches and candles is more important than any threat by the enemy. In spite of the generally poor marksmanship, however, Orwell did manage to get himself shot in the neck, and his first-hand account of what it is like to be wounded is vivid and completely absorbing. The only thing that keeps this book from being superb is its detailed discussion of each of the various left-wing parties and their responsibility—or lack of responsibility--for the internecine battles on the streets of Barcelona that contributed to the subsequent purges, arrests, and imprisonments. Orwell clearly realizes that this account may be a problem for his narrative, for he apologizes for its length, arguing that previous accounts in the international press have been so deceptive that it has become necessary to set the record straight. Now, however, more than seventy-five years later, such a precise accounting is indeed unnecessary--at least for the general reader--and Orwell's book suffers as a result.

  • Stephen
    2019-06-21 22:33

    HEADLINE: For students, here the politics is explained.For you students who have this great book imposed upon you in a syllabus, here is the best help I can give you with regard to Chapters V and XI, which are in some editions included only as Appendices.It is interesting to note that at the outset Orwell himself was nonplussed by the alphabet soup of the political situation in Spain. At first he was at a loss when confronted with the idea of right wing communism as you probably are. It was only as he became aware that he was every bit as much in danger of being killed by the “Communists” as he was of being killed by Fascists that he became educated.That aspect of the book is dense when one first encounters it. No doubt about it. This is not Orwell's fault because he explains it about as clearly as it could be explained. I think the problem arises in part out of the simplistic preconceptions about the Spanish Civil War that we bring to the book even now. Orwell is still trying to get us straightened out in our thinking.Far be it from me to sound as if I am trying to be helpful to Orwell. Nonetheless and for what it is worth, I think his explanation would have been immeasurably clearer if he had used the term “Stalinist” every time he describes the P.S.U.C. rather than “Communist.” The reason that he did not is perhaps that the term “Stalinist” was not in quite as wide a usage then as it is today. The distinction is simply this. Stalinists placed the interests of the Soviet Union first and foremost. The ideals of socialism held a very distant second place to that. In fact it was Leon Trotsky's view, simplistically put, that Stalinists really did not give a shit about international socialist ideals at all and in fact considered them anathema.Therefore, when you are reading, try mentally substituting the word “Stalinist” for the word “Communist” whenever you encounter it. In those few instances where that substitution would lead to an inaccurate reading, the context will clearly tip you off.It was in the vital interest of the Soviet Union at the time to have strong alliances with capitalist democracies for the purposes of its own defense. The Spanish Republic, the government that Franco was attempting to overthrow by military coup, was a capitalist democracy. Another capitalist democratic ally is exactly what the Stalinists wanted in Spain. They did not want a revolution, be it anarchist or socialist. It was the Stalinists who were truly defending the existing capitalist democracy.Obviously, the Stalinsts also deeply appreciated that a Franco government in Spain would not be an ally of the Soviet Union.Therein is where the three-way aspect of this conflict comes in. Contemporaneously, with the hostilities between the army and the established Republic, the anarchists and labor groups started a true left-wing revolution that ultimately would have done away with the Republic, a capitalist democracy. . . .and the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, by the way. The tricky aspect of the situation arose out of grim necessity. The true left-wingers, the anarchists and labor groups who were in the midst of staging their revolution, and their enemies the Stalinists were forced into an extremely uneasy cooperative effort in fighting Franco. Had there been no Franco, the Spanish Civil War would have been a two-way conflict between the left-wing anarchists and labor groups on one side and the capitalist democratic Republic and Stalinists on the other. Maybe.I have read these sections of the book many times in order to get this through my head, but I gladly stand ready to be corrected on any of it. The lesson of the book, by the way, is: Pay attention to politics. Politics can get you killed.

  • Greg
    2019-06-19 03:30

    1. Homage to Catalonia has the distinction of being on my mental to-read list for longer than any other book. I've wanted to read this book longer than any of the people who elbowed or punched me in the face this week have been alive. I figured after almost twenty and half years I should finally read it. I've owned the book for over a decade.I have no clue what book now currently holds the distinction book I've wanted to read for the longest time but haven't.2. When I was a senior in high school I wrote a paper for a friend of mine on this book, he was a year older and a freshman at Fordham. I had been visiting him, and he needed to write a paper on this book. I'm not sure if he read it or not. I hadn't. The paper was on the relationship between the Anarchists (CNT) and the Communists (PSUC). I dictated the paper to him, highlighting the ideological differences between the two groups and why the Communists would turn on the Anarchists. Prior to the evening that we did this I don't know if I had ever really known anything about the Spanish Civil War. I don't remember having ever really learned anything in school or had read anything about Anarchism or Communism (beyond what we learned growing up in the waning and thawing days of the Cold War, not necessarily the most objective facts being passed on to young minds). I babbled on about the differences between these two ideologies. My friend typed and gave me some bits he knew or remembered from the book to get my reaction to them. It was the first college paper I wrote, and it wasn't for myself. My friend later told me that he got his highest grade for that class on this paper. It would take me two decades to actually read the book. 3. The Spanish Civil War I think of as one of the great tragedies of the 20th Century. Fuck the 60's. To me this was the last stand of idealism.4. The book. George Orwell went to Spain to report on the war in late 1936. Arriving in Barcelona he got caught up in the revolutionary feeling of the city and joined the militia. His credentials to get him into the country were from an organization aligned with the POUM, a politically fairly insignificant group in the hodgepodge of alphabet groups that made up the Spanish Government who were fighting Franco. Orwell wasn't necessarily happy about joining the POUM, he would have rather joined up with the Communists, which was where his sympathies lay at the time. But, he also wanted to help defeat this threat of fascist, and wanted to do his part and kill at least one fascist in battle. So he joined and after a short time went to one of the fronts. It's significant that Orwell had joined the POUM. About six months later the POUM would be a suppressed political group, branded fascist traitors by the Communists (PSUC), they would be accused of the heretical crime of Trotskyism, and many of the leaders would disappear into jails, never to be heard of again, and the rank and file arrested as fast as they could be found. Orwell would end up escaping from Spain and evading arrest as friends of his were arrested, disappeared and ultimately died in the custody of the Communists. The book itself is mostly a narrative of Orwell's time in Spain. A travel essay where instead of describing his Holiday in the Sun in some exotic place he ends up spending four months living in a trench, takes part in an ineffectual assault on a fascist position, goes on leave just in time to arrive back in Barcelona to witness and take part in the street fighting of May 1937, goes back to the trenches, gets shot in the throat, and arrives wounded back in Barcelona just in time to be branded a traitor and an enemy of the state because he had been in a POUM regiment. Interspersed with this narrative are some chapters on the political climate of Spain and the gross distortions and lies about the various political groups that were being trumpeted in the press both in Spain and abroad. Orwell's narrative of his time in Spain is great reporting on the time. It's fairly amazing today to think that he did what he did. There was no real reason why he should have signed up to fight in this war. It wasn't his country. He was caught up in the revolutionary possibilities being exhibited in Barcelona at the time, and as he says he was tired to seeing the fascists up until this point winning at everything they tried, so it makes sense why wanted to take part, but I think about myself and other people I've known and I can see myself being sympathetic to the cause, but to actually sign up, live in a cold trench with almost no food, and shooting and getting shot at with antiquated rifles? This isn't like deciding to go sleep in a park and play bongoes in order to collapse the capitalist system. The real message to the book though is in Orwell himself. He never politically sympathized with the POUM or the CNT (I don't know how to describe the POUM, revolutionary-socialist might work, but those terms get clouded, but they need to be put in perspective with the Communist position, which wasn't revolutionary at all, but was attempting to hold back the floodgates of revolutionary fervor, so as not to alienate the middle class and foreign interests-- in case you forgot the CNT are the Anarchists, who played a very significant role in the Spanish Civil War, especially in the early days, and their role lessened when the big backer of the Government (which is the side this whole alphabet soup were fighting on) became the USSR and the better weapons and stuff were finding their ways into the hands of the various Communist armies and militias), he saw problems with the waging of a revolution alongside creating a united front against Franco. Orwell might have been naive, but he sort of thought that the war could be won by a united front, and then the revolution, true equality as was being attempted and exhibited by the POUM and CNT at the time could be had by all. If this doesn't make too much sense it might be my fault in explaining it, or it might be in the small differences between the groups and their aims that make them essentially incompatible with each other. Sooner or later the differences between them were going to become visible. And they did, and through lies and distortions people who had been risking their lives in fighting against the fascists were overnight turned into enemies of the government. Men returning from the front were finding themselves being branded the very thing they had been fighting against. They were arrested. The atmosphere of Barcelona became what we might later call Orwellian. But back to Orwell himself. He wasn't politically sympathetic to the abstract ideas these groups might have had, but he was more than sympathetic to The Truth and the individual men who he had known, served and fought with. He knew they weren't a fifth column looking to help the fascists, they were people who believed in protecting their country, they were people who were giving their lives and comforts to holding lines and carrying out dangerous assignments. And the truth, as it was being broadcast now by Communist organs was that they were traitors. English Communist newspapers were calling for the execution of the them for being traitors to the revolution. Things Orwell had seen first hand were being reported as the exact opposite and being passed off as truth, and these distortions when they were noticed were shrugged off by fellow-travellers as necessities of the forward march of progress. It might not seem like a big deal that Orwell was shocked by the lies he saw, and that he was more deeply committed to the truth than to an abstract political concept or the Party line, but you can compare him to other intellectuals at the time who needed to have the atrocities of Stalin to be beyond any hope of being wished away before they turned away from their love affair with Stalin's vision of pragmatic action. Or you can compare Orwell to someone like Hemingway who knew full well that a friend of his had been innocent of the charges he was arrested for in Spain, but he had no problem with supporting the official line that even if he was innocent he was still guilty of treason, because the Party had said so. To write this book when Orwell did was courageous. The truth being held to be less important than orthodoxy. It would be kind of like one of those Evangelistic money-makers coming out with a book exposing all the fraud, lies and deceit that his fellow cronies were taking part in. Or a Conservative pundit coming out with an attack on the lies and fleecing the neo-cons have been a part of, say a month before a presidential election. Needless to say, this book of Orwell's was pretty much ignored when it came out. Today, with the Spanish Civil War something that most people don't really know about or care about, this book stands as an interesting read about a man going to war, but more importantly as a testament to one man's dedication to the truth and his strong moral fortitude.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-06-27 06:28

    Homage To Catalonia, c1980, George OrwellHomage to Catalonia is George Orwell's personal account of his experiences and observations in the Spanish Civil War. The first edition was published in the United Kingdom in 1938. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سیزدهم ماه اکتبر سال 1983 میلادیعنوان: درود بر کاتالونیا - گزارشی از جنگ داخلی اسپانیا - سال 1937؛ نویسنده: جورج اورول؛ مترجم: تورج آرامش؛ تهران، آگاه، 1360؛ در 236 ص؛ عنوان دیگر: جنگ داخلی اسپانیا - 1937؛ موضوع: تاریخ اسپانیا جنگهای داخلی بین سالهای 1936 تا 1939 م، قرن 20 معنوان: زنده باد کاتالونیا؛ جورج اورول؛ مترجم: مهدی افشار؛ تهران، مجید، 1390؛ در 285 ص؛ شابک: 9789644531163؛مشاهدات جورج اورول از جنگ داخلی اسپانیا و خودزندگی‌نامه ی: جرج اورول؛ در زمان جنگ داخلی اسپانیا و حول حضور میدانی ایشان در این کارزار و وقایعی است که برای جمهوری‌ خواهان و آنارشیست‌های اسپانیا و علی‌ الخصوص کاتالونیا، پیش آمده است. ا. شربیانی

  • Ted
    2019-06-10 23:45

    3 ½ stars.Now, after many false starts …In my first attempt at reviewing this, I began by saying “This is a first rate source for information … on the Spanish Civil War.” Wrong!!! It really is a very poor source of information on the SCW. Because it is on a very personal level, and is mostly seen from a very limited and narrow point of view, this is really an almost useless book for learning anything historically significant about the war.So, let’s start over. Why is this book so famous? The first reason should be obvious, its author. Orwell is one of my favorite authors, as he is for a great number of readers.I believe the second reason is this. For many years Homage was one of the only English language, non-academic books available about the Spanish Civil War (with a famous author, no less). This book has been rated by over 17,000 readers here on GR. Among non-fiction books dealing with the war, I would venture that no others have been rated by even one-tenth that many readers. What’s in the book. The book is really two “books”. One “book”, the majority of the words, is about Orwell’s personal experiences in the war. A war memoir. The second “book” contains Orwell’s analysis of the machinations of the Soviet Government and the Communist Party during the war, specifically regarding the Spanish situation in that period.There are two different layouts for the book. The second of the above “books” was chapters V and XII of Homage to Catalonia as originally published. Orwell had second thoughts about this arrangement, and later suggested that these two chapters be moved to appendices. Some editions of the work have actually done this. Others have kept the original layout. It’s easy enough to tell about the book you read. If it has 14 chapters and no appendices, it’s the original layout; otherwise it will have 12 chapters and the two appendices. (The copy of the book I have is a paperback version of the first U.S. edition, in the original layout. It’s a Harvest Book, published by Harcourt Brace & World, with a copyright date of 1952. It contains an introduction by Lionel Trilling, which has been reprinted in many editions of the book since then.)The first book - when. The 12 chapters of Orwell’s experiences in Spain take place from late in 1936 to about the middle of 1937. In Volume 1 of The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, titled An Age Like This 1920-1940, entry 92 is a letter dated 15 December 1936, in which he says that he should be leaving for Spain “in about a week”. Entry 99, dated 8 June 1937, is another letter, written while Orwell was still hospitalized in Barcelona. From the last couple chapters of Homage is would appear that it was probably no more than a couple weeks after this letter that, having been discharged from hospital and met up with his wife, they had made it across the border into France. Entry 100, an article called Spilling the Spanish Beans, was written after he was back in England, and appeared in two installments in New English Weekly on 29 July and 2 September.The first book, as a war memoir. Frankly, it really isn’t very exciting. Of course it’s well written, but Orwell’s experiences on the front on which he was stationed, in Catalonia, southwest of Barcelona, didn’t really see all that much action. There was enough action for Orwell to receive a bullet wound in the neck, which could easily have killed him, and did put him in hospital for much of the remaining time he was in Spain. The chief interest of this majority of the book is mainly of the “this is what being stationed on a pretty inactive front was like in the mid 1930s in Spain” sort.We meet few other characters (none of them memorable, for me) in which we can become interested, or who played an important part in Orwell’s own experiences.The second book. In the second “book” Orwell goes into details of how he came to be connected to the Catalonian Anarchist formation he ended up with, instead of with a Communist formation. (He had had a letter of Introduction from a Communist organization in England, but it had little effect on how he was assigned by the Republican recruiters who were dealing with foreign volunteers.)Then he tells us of the various contingents of the Republican forces, and the political leanings that they each had. Now here’s the thing. At least as far as I know, Orwell did not speak Spanish. So, first, whatever information he got was either from the few Spaniards he met that may have spoken English, or else second or third hand from non-Spanish English speakers. Then, since he was connected to an Anarchist unit, naturally much, if not most, of this information came from Anarchist-leaning men.I don’t remember (and I haven’t the book at hand as I write) if Orwell gives any indication that he was familiar with the decades-old animosity that had existed between Communist, socialist, and at least two different flavors of anarchist political movements in Catalonia.For these reasons, Orwell’s book is little used as a reference for histories of the Spanish Civil war by academics. He just didn’t have that deep a knowledge of what was going on politically on the Republican side, especially as regards the tides of semi-allied eras these groups had gone through, interspersed with longer and very violent periods of conflict between them. Now I’m not saying that the things he writes in the book are flat wrong, or are useless. But I don’t think they are a dependable source of information. Of some other books I’ve read on this era of Spanish history, two contain MUCH more, and I’m sure better, information than is found in Orwell’s second “book”. These are (a) The Spanish Civil War A Very Short Introduction, and (b) Gerald Brenan’s The Spanish Labyrinth. The first book, by English historian Helen Graham, is a modern, up-to-date compendium, dense with information, about the causes of the war, the major phases of the military conflict, the political and social forces driving the two sides, and the brutal way in which Franco spent years afterwards making sure that those who had opposed him paid for their crimes; it makes use of much primary material that has become available only with the demise of Franco and the beginnings of a democratic Spain. The second book is a magnificent summary of Spanish social and political movements for the 60-70 years preceding the SCW, with a brief Afterward written after the war was over. It does not deal directly with the years in which the War was fought.What is wrong with Orwell’s version. Orwell seems to imply (though I don't know how closely he comes to saying this outright) that the Republican cause was basically betrayed by Stalinist/Communist machinations which produced mass arrests and imprisonments (and worse) of long standing major figures in the socialist and anarchist forces fighting for the Republic.In her book, Graham writes that this considerably overstates the effect of these very right wing Stalinist activities in Spain (which certainly did happen), and in no way is the reason that the Republican side lost the war. Far more important were these facts. (1) While Franco's forces were being supplied with weapons, tanks, planes, etc by the fascist governments of both Hitler and Mussolini, the Republican side was dependent on a single source of arms, Russia. (And at some point in the war, Stalin decided to cut his losses in this regard.) (2) The Republicans desperately wanted to be able to buy arms from other sources, but couldn't. Why couldn't they? (3) The attitude of England, whose capitalist power brokers were much more concerned with the prospect of the leftist Republicans winning than they were with the conservative, right wing Franco winning, prevented it. How? (4) England, and to a somewhat lesser extent France, led a diplomatic initiative which formed a very effective arms embargo on all of Spain throughout the war. Of course Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union paid no attention to this embargo, but other "law-abiding" countries were for the most part quite content to observe the embargo.The Republicans never really had a chance, certainly after the time at which Russia cut off their arms supply - and really not even before that happened.I would recommend either of the above books, or better yet both of them, as a source of information for (a) the SCW, and (b) the state of Spanish society when the Civil War broke out. This would be a far more useful reading exercise for this knowledge than Homage to Catalonia.

  • Sarah (Presto agitato)
    2019-06-03 01:33

    I have always found the Spanish Civil War confusing. After reading Homage to Catalonia, I at least feel that I was justified in my confusion. On the surface, of course, it was a conflict between Franco’s Fascists and the democratic Republican government, but it was far more complicated than that. When Orwell arrived in Spain to fight on the Republican side with the P.O.U.M. militia, a P.S.U.C. position was pointed out to him and he was told “Those are the Socialists” to which he responded, “Aren’t we all Socialists?” He quickly learned that would be far too easy. Orwell does an admirable job of sorting out the alphabet soup of the anti-Fascist parties and militias - the P.S.U.C., C.N.T., F.A.I., P.O.U.M., U.G.T., etc., etc. The distinctions between the Anarchists, left-wing Communists, and right-wing Communists seem subtle, especially since the groups were supposedly united in their opposition to Franco, but they became critically important later. As Orwell learned, associating with the wrong party was a potentially lethal decision.Orwell served in the P.O.U.M. (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista) in 1937. He chose the party somewhat arbitrarily, based on connections he had through the British Independent Labour Party. Rather than providing a comprehensive discussion of the Spanish Civil War, Orwell focuses on his personal experiences of fighting at the front (against the Fascists). He then moves on to the May, 1937 street fighting in Barcelona, when the various Republican groups fought each other. He vividly describes the experiences of war, with the cold, dirt, and lice, the inadequate weapons, and the idealistic but inexperienced soldiers, some of whom were children. With characteristic dryness, he recounts events such as being shot in the throat by a sniper, beginning, “The whole experience of being hit by a bullet is very interesting and I think it is worth describing in detail.” I would say so.More interesting, however, is Orwell’s growing disillusionment with the politics of the war, a story he surely did not expect to have to tell when he set out to fight Fascism. He contrasts the atmosphere in Barcelona when he first arrived in Spain, when the workers were in control and he “breathed the air of equality,” with the oppressive environment of the police state that predominated just a few months later. The Soviet-backed P.S.U.C. pinned the May fighting in Barcelona on Orwell’s P.O.U.M., an excuse to suppress the P.O.U.M. and declare it illegal. The P.O.U.M. members were accused of being “Trotsky-Fascists,” which seems like an amusing oxymoron, but with it came the implication that they had secretly aided Franco. This was disastrous for the P.O.U.M. members, many of whom were thrown in jail for months on end without being charged of anything or allowed to stand trial. Many of them “disappeared,” including Andrés Nin, the leader of the P.O.U.M., who met a horrible end at the hands of the NKVD (the Soviet secret police). Orwell’s commanding officer and friend Georges Kopp was imprisoned in terrible conditions. Orwell recounts a poignant story of frantically rushing around the city trying to convince the authorities to read a letter that would exonerate Kopp. His Spanish was shaky and his voice even weaker after the vocal cord paralysis he suffered from his neck wound. He also ran a very real risk of being arrested himself, simply by association with Kopp and the P.O.U.M. Orwell’s room was raided and all of his books and papers confiscated by the secret police. He and his wife only barely escaped from Spain themselves.The Spanish Civil War was a microcosm of the conflict that was developing in Europe in the 1930s, a sort of testing ground for ideologies in preparation for World War II. Many foreigners came to fight, idealistically hoping to strike out against Fascism and to support a new government which seemed to represent the working people. Unfortunately, as Orwell came to find, other doctrines were tested as well, with the terrors of the totalitarian police state that came to dominate his later writing.

  • Mohammed-Makram
    2019-06-11 01:19

    و الكلمة الوحيدة التي لا يملك الغريب إلا أن يتعلمها هي كلمة "مانيانا" أي غدا و معناها الحرفي اليوم التالي. فإن كان بالمستطاع .. يؤجل عمل اليوم إلى المانيانا.أنا شوفت الكلام ده فين قبل كده  يتحدث في أحيان أخرى عن الكرم الأسباني و عن الشعور السوداء و العيون العربية و البشرة السمراء فأتذكر أننا يوما ما كنا هنا.ما الذي يجعل شاب كيوت و ابن ناس كجورج أورويل يترك حياة المدنية و يزج بنفسه في حرب لا ناقة له فيها و لا جمل كبريطاني يعيش في أزهى عصور دولته الإستعمارية.إنها انسانيته التي جعلته يستقيل من وظيفته الحكومية كشرطي في بلاد البنجال التي ولد فيه كإبن لمستعمر إنجليزي قبل أن يتلقى تعليمه في إنجلترا ثم يعود للعمل في مستعمرته و مسقط رأسه. نعم تمرد أورويل على الوظيفة و على الحياة و على الدولة و هام على وجهه مع المشردين و العمال و المهمشين إلى أن ذهب إلى أسبانيا كمراسل حربي أثناء الحرب الأهلية ثم لم يلبث أن انخرط في هذه الحرب كجندي يدافع عن الإنسانية و عن الحق في العمل و الحياة الكريمة لجميع عمال العالم.يصاب برصاصة في عنقه و لحسن حظه أثرت في حنجرته فقط و لكنه يقول إن كان محظوظا فلم تمر رصاصة في عنقه أصلا.بإسلوب أدبي جميل و رصين يحكي لنا أورويل قصته و قصة الحرب و كـأنك تقرأ رواية لا تفاصيل معارك و خلافات حربية و حزبية.كتاب جميل و جدير بالإقتناء عن ثوار تكالبت عليهم الأمم و قدموا أرواحهم وقودا في حرب اقتربت كثيرا من أن تكون عبثية.أما عن وجهة نظر جورج أورويل فتجدها في كتاب أخر كتقرير صحفي مطول بعد انتهاء الحرب تجدههنا

  • Kim
    2019-06-21 02:40

    Should anyone want to understand why George Orwell, a life long socialist, developed the antipathy to the Soviet Union which informed his best known novels Animal Farm and 1984, then this is the book to read. When Orwell travelled to Spain in December 1936, intending to fight fascism and write about the Spanish Civil War, he stepped into a complex and murky political situation. The left-wing forces supporting the Republican government against the fascist forces led by Franco had different and conflicting aims. The pro-Republic forces included the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM – Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista) which supported the Trotskyist aim of world revolution, the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia. The latter was a wing of the Spanish Communist Party and was backed by Soviet arms and aid. Orwell's accreditation in Spain came from the British International Labour Party, which was linked with POUM. He accordingly joined the POUM militia and fought with it on the Aragon front at Alcubierre, Monte Oscuro and Huesco.Orwell's account of experiences in Spain focuses on four distinct periods. Firstly, it deals with his initial time in the trenches on the reasonably quiet Aragon front. The next part of the narrative covers the internecine conflict in Barcelona in May 1937 which involved street-fighting between Communist groups loyal to Moscow* and anti-Soviet communists, socialists and anarchists. The third part of the work concerns Orwell's experience of being shot in the throat by a sniper when he returned to the Aragon front and the treatment he subsequently received for his injury. Finally, Orwell deals with the suppression of POUM and the consequent arrest of those associated with the organisation, which contributed to Orwell having to leave Spain in a hurry.What led Orwell to turn so conclusively against Soviet style communism was the banning of POUM, the persecution of its leaders and members and his conviction that Moscow was behind the vilification of anarchist and non-Soviet aligned communist groups and specifically the accusation that they were fascist agitators. In the work, he analysed the propaganda against groups like POUM which was published in the communist newspapers at the time, both within Spain and abroad, and explained why he believed the claims against POUM and similar groups were baseless.I know very little about the Spanish Civil War and this memoir, which was first published some nine months after Orwell left Spain, is not in any sense a history of that conflict. It obviously cannot be, given that it was published before the war ended and deals with Orwell's own experiences rather than with the bigger picture. Reading the work is like listening to an intelligent, thoughtful, well-informed friend talk about his experiences. The prose is clear and concise and the style is conversational, without being simplistic. The fact that Orwell wrote about his experiences so soon after the events in which he was involved took place gives an immediacy to the narrative. The most difficult part of the work is coming to terms with the different groups involved in the conflict: they make up a veritable alphabet soup. But Orwell's explanation of the politics is clear and, as uninformed as I am, I found it very interesting. Just as interesting are the accounts of Orwell's fairly dull time on the front, where boredom, cold, discomfort and an infestation of lice made up the daily reality of life, his account of what it feels like to be shot in the throat and his account of being in Barcelona after POUM was suppressed. Ultimately, Orwell's departure from Spain read like a thriller. I love Orwell's writing and this is an excellent example of what makes it so good. The work is honest, moving, passionate and sometimes prescient. The very last sentence - written in 1937 or 1938 - foretells the war yet to come. Orwell refers to the English "sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England" from which he feared that they would never wake until "jerked out of it by the roar of bombs".*When Orwell referred to communists in this work, he was generally (although not always) referring to pro-Soviet groups and individuals. Substituting "Stalinist" for "communist" is a handy way of distinguishing between the various left wing factions.

  • B0nnie
    2019-06-09 01:26

    Another *FAQ* I wrote from back in the day in usenet for Orwell has kindly granted me an interview regarding his book,Homage to Catalonia B: There has been some talk about the Spanish Civil War lately, perhaps inspired by the recent movieEl Laberinto del Fauno . This war was a labyrinth as well: sorting out the various factions and who did what to whom certainly is quite a chore. But first things first. Could you describe your ensemble - you are wearing some unusual clothing. Is it a uniform? O: Of a sort. It is not exactly a uniform - perhaps a 'multiform' would be the proper name for it. I am wearing a thick vest and pants, a flannel shirt, two pull-overs, a woollen jacket, a pigskin jacket, corduroy breeches, puttees, thick socks, boots, a stout trench-coat, a muffler, lined leather gloves, and a woollen cap. B: !!! That is a lot of ensemble - you must be very hot. O: I heard that Canada is quite cold. I dressed in what I wore on cold nights at the front. B: Now, is this typical clothing for the militia? O: Practically everyone in the army wore corduroy knee-breeches . . . . some wore puttees, others corduroy gaiters, others leather leggings or high boots. Everyone wore a zipper jacket, but some of the jackets were of leather, others of wool and of every conceivable colour. The kinds of cap were about as numerous as their wearers. It was usual to adorn the front of your cap with a party badge, and in addition nearly every man wore a red or red and black handkerchief round his throat.B: Very dashing. And red goes particularly well with dark hair. You guys gave those clothes-horse fascists something to think about. O: I believe we did, in our own way. B: Let's discuss the puttees. For the benefit of those who do not know it, could you give a brief etymology of this word? O: It's from the Hindi and Urdu, their word for a strip of cloth, which in turn originated from Sanskrit. It is usually a woolen strip of cloth and it's wrapped around the leg from the ankle to knee. This prevents your trousers from being torn or soiled. B: Ah, practical *and* chic. Surely a real chore to remove though? O: One rarely removed one's clothing. You see, one had to be ready to turn out instantly in case of an attack. In eighty nights I only took my clothes off three times, though I did occasionally manage to get them off in the daytime. B: I won't ask you about *that*. Sleeping in your clothes must have been a hardship? O: No, not after a day or two. But there was a worse problem. For sheer beastliness the louse beats everything I have encountered . . . . he lives chiefly in your trousers. Short of burning all your clothes there is no known way of getting rid of him. Down the seams of your trousers he lays his glittering white eggs, like tiny grains of rice, which hatch out and breed families of their own at horrible speed. I think the pacifists might find it helpful to illustrate their pamphlets with enlarged photographs of lice. Glory of war, indeed! In war all soldiers are lousy . . . B: Surely not - they are usually brave, I understand.O: No, not lousy. 'Lousy.' The men who fought at Verdun, at Waterloo, at Flodden, at Senlac, at Thermopylae - every one of them had lice crawling over his testicles. B: Ok, enough of that! Ha-ha, I'm confident no one wants to discuss your testicles, lousy or otherwise. O: ??? B: So there you were, an Englishman thrown in with the Spaniards. How is your Spanish? O: Villainous. All this time I was having the usual struggles with the Spanish language. Apart from myself there was only one Englishman at the barracks, and nobody even among the officers spoke a word of French . . . B: Impossible! O: Things were not made easier for me by the fact that when my companions spoke to one another they generally spoke in Catalan. The only way I could get along was to carry everywhere a small dictionary which I whipped out of my pocket in moments of crisis. But I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain! B: You joined the P.O.U.M. militia, and you have been criticized for not criticizing the way they ran the war. O: They didn't 'run' the war, they were muddling through like everyone else. The whole militia-system had serious faults, and the men themselves were a mixed lot, for by this time voluntary recruitment was falling off and many of the best men were already at the front or dead. There was always among us a certain percentage who were completely useless. Boys of fifteen were being brought up for enlistment by their parents, quite openly for the sake of the ten pesetas a day which was the militiaman's wage; also for the sake of the bread which the militia received in plenty and could smuggle home to their parents. B: You wrote Homage to Catalonia with a certain detachment and regard for form? O: Yes, I tried to tell the whole truth without violating my literary instincts. B: What sort of action did you see? O: All the time I was in Spain I saw very little fighting. I was on the Aragon front from January to May, and between January and late March little or nothing happened on that front, except at Teruel. In March there was heavy fighting round Huesca, but I personally played only a minor part in it. Later, in June, there was the disastrous attack on Huesca in which several thousand men were killed in a single day, but I had been wounded and disabled before that happened.B: That wound turned out to be quite lucky. You had been promoted to second lieutenant, and then on May 20, 1937 you caught a sniper's bullet in the throat. Please describe it.O: It was a 7mm bore, copper-plated, Spanish Mauser bullet, shot from a distance of about 175 yards, at a velocity of 600 feet per second . . . B: I mean, describe your experience.O: Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the centre of an explosion. There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all round me, and I felt a tremendous shock - no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shrivelled up to nothing . . . .All this happened in a space of time much less than a second. The next moment my knees crumpled up and I was falling, my head hitting the ground with a violent bang which, to my relief, did not hurt. I had a numb, dazed feeling, a consciousness of being very badly hurt, but no pain in the ordinary sense. B: Did your life flash before your eyes, as they say? O: I felt a vague satisfaction. This ought to please my wife, I thought; she had always wanted me to be wounded, which would save me from being killed when the great battle came. B: She must have felt a vague sorrow for your pain. But I understand Eileen was working in Barcelona as a secretary in the IPL office, very rare for a foreign woman to come to Spain at that time. O: Yes, and in mid-March she visited me for three days in the front line trenches. The fascists threw in a small bombardment and quite a lot of machine-gun fire while she was there. B: She must have hated it. O: No, she wasn't frightened and found it quite interesting. She never enjoyed anything more. B: Come on. O: That's what she said, really. B: She certainly wasn't mousey like she was once called. O: She wasn't a bad old stick, at any rate. My commanding officer George Kopp rather admired her too, and thought her awfully brave and heroical. But that's another story. B: You and Eileen barely escaped out of Spain, with the Soviet Police hunting down P.O.U.M. members. O: We started off by being heroic defenders of democracy and ended by slipping over the border with the police panting on our heels. B: C'est la vie, hein! O: . . . B.

  • 7jane
    2019-06-06 05:33

    music: Durutti Column - "Street Fight"(also because there's a small, POUM-hostile extremist-anarchist group called Friends Of Durruti mentioned in the book, who were used as part of false-information war by the government)(my book has intros by Hochschild and Trilling, both very excellent. Two chapters of the book have been appendixed to the end, which I also think as a wise choice, since both are rather political side-comments 1: why and how Communists suppressed the smaller leftist groups 2: about Barcelona fight in more detail, and how non-Spanish press wrote about it)I made a lot of notes reading this book. The book did give me new information on the political situation of the left during Spanish Civil War. When Orwell joined in the battle in 1936, he wasn't at first interested in the political side of things - though from quite almost the start he realised his admiration for the Spanish character in general - but gradually came to realise the importance of it. This book is a good example of ideals vs. reality thing, of wanting revolution or just wanting things to stay in balance (it is said here that Franco was more about keeping of feudalism at first, really - the power of the aristrocracy and the church - where are the Church-blessed martyrs of the *Franco* era, eh?)Orwell talks about his life in the trenches, the difference of Barcelona as he first saw it (red and hopeful) and the second time (class system back in, Communists taking over other left and anarchists), becoming wounded and having to flee Spain, for various reasons (but mainly as to not be imprisoned and disappeared forever, not just because of his state of health). The part about late 1930s being a dark time for democracy, with fascism rising everywhere, sounds familiar a bit now, doesn't it? And Stalin's support of only the Communists (because they agree enough with him), not the true revolution-attempt of the other left/Anarchists... well, capitalism just can be hidden. And reading the text you realise: you have read about communists, maoists, etc. being blind to the black marks of their political way (Maos family and persecutions, Stalin's purges, etc.), and this Spanish civil war's thing of Communists fight against the minority sides (propaganda, not enough guns, imprisonment, naming them as friends of Fascists/Trotskyites etc.) is another of those things that was not known, ignored and lied about in Commist presses in other countries, who sometimes also contradicted their own information as the time passed or even in the same article.The war was started by the right, and these small minority left/anarchist groups reacted quicker than the weaker, indecisive, mainly Communist government. It's easy to see why the Communists were a larger group - easier to be a member if you're just talking rather than getting to work immediately: the goverment believed in 'first war, then revolution' (when revolution would've been less easy to begin on after peace), while the minorities believed more in 'revolution *and* war'. Didn't know that Willy Brandt had been in this war. Also amused at the dislike Orwell had at Gaudi's cathedral XD And all those cigarettes... and that telescope having to be left behind. Now I also think about the lice when I hear the word 'lousy', more *lol*Yep, Stalin is where the arms for the left mostly came from; others were older stuff, and not always working. Mexico sent some too, but not much. Most Western Europe that was not fascist didn't deliver arms, and USA (of course) not either (for communits, already, notice). The author returns home to England, still seemingly idyllic, peaceful, IGNORANT of war... but war is just around the corner for them, too. This book changed my view on a plenty of political tactics within the left side, where I still stay. Never was blinkered about the dark sides and selling outs, really, but just got another corner of history more opened up. This is essential reading, and in many ways has relevant things to say even today.

  • Roy Lotz
    2019-06-09 05:26

    I have the most evil memories of Spain, but I have very few bad memories of Spaniards. I only twice remember even being seriously angry with a Spaniard, and on each occasion, when I look back, I believe I was in the wrong myself.Autobiographies and memoirs are, I think, the best books to read on vacation. Not only are they light, easy, and entertaining, but they’re usually not hard to put down. This is important because, if you’re like me, you may end up spending your whole vacation with your head buried in a book. Most valuable, however, is simply seeing how an excellent writer transforms their experiences into stories. The vague emotions of daily life, the interesting characters we encounter, the sights and sounds and smells of new places—good autobiographies direct our attention to these little details.In this spirit I picked up Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia to read during my trip to Seville. It was an excellent choice. It’s been a while since I’ve read Orwell, and I’d nearly forgotten what a fine writer he is. In fact, perhaps the most conspicuous quality of this book is the caliber of the prose. It is written with such grace, clarity, and ease, that I couldn’t help being constantly impressed and, I admit, extremely envious at times. The writing is direct but never blunt; the tone is personal and natural, but not chummy. The book may have been a bit too readable, actually, since I had a hard time prying myself away to go explore Seville (and a book has to be very good indeed to compete with Seville).There seems to be a bit of confusion about this book. Specifically, some people seem to come to it expecting to learn about the Spanish Civil War. This is a mistake; Orwell only experienced a sliver of the war, and his understanding of the political situation was limited to the infighting between various leftist groups. The events and conflicts that led up to the war, and the progress of the war itself, are for the most part unexplained. This book is, rather, a deeply personal record of his time in the Spanish militia. We learn more about Orwell’s military routine than about any battles between fascist and government forces. More light is shed on Orwell’s own political opinions than the political situation in Spain.If you come to the book with this in mind, it will not disappoint. His time in Spain made a deep impression on Orwell; he writes of it in a wistful and nostalgic tone, as if everything that happened occurred in a dreamy, timeless, mist-filled landscape, disconnected from the rest of his life. Characters come and go, soldiers are introduced, arrested, or killed in action; but we do not get acquainted with anyone save Orwell himself. The mood is introspective and pensive, as if it all took place in another life. Even when he is describing his friends’ imprisonment, or his experience getting shot in the neck and hospitalized, he manages to sound dispassionate and serene.Two chapters, however, do not fit into this characterization. These are Orwell’s analyses of the political situation in Barcelona during this time. In some books, they are published as appendices—which I think is a good choice, actually, since they interrupt the flow of the book quite a bit. Despite the abrupt change in tone and subject-matter, however, they make for valuable reading. The machinations and petty political squabbles that went on during this time are astounding. One would think that having a common enemy in Franco would be enough to unite the various factions on the Left, at least for the duration of the war. Instead, the anti-revolutionary communist party ended up declaring the pro-revolutionary communist party (of which Orwell was a member, entirely by chance) to be a fascist conspiracy, resulting in hundreds of people—people who had spent months fighting at the front—being thrown in secret prisons. Orwell himself narrowly escaped.Nevertheless, I think that Orwell’s analyses of the general situation in Spain should be taken with copious salt. He understands nearly everything through a quasi-Marxist lens of class-warfare, which I think fails to do justice to the complex political and cultural history of the conflict. Added to this, one gets the impression that Orwell’s command of Spanish was fairly rudimentary, which I think greatly limited his ability to understand the war. To his credit, though, Orwell does warn us about his limitations: In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now: beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events. And beware of exactly the same things when you read any other book on this period of the Spanish war.But these are minor complaints of a book which I found to be supremely well-written and absolutely fascinating. His accounts of life at the front were possibly the best descriptions of war that I’ve ever read, with the exception of those in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. This is not because Orwell saw very much fighting; quite the opposite. Rather, he conveys a sense of the crushing boredom and the sense of futility that many soldiers must feel during a long, draw-out war. Also superb was his portrayal of political oppression, the climate of fear and backstabbing that arose during the party conflicts in Barcelona.Perhaps most impressive, though, is that, despite all of the hardships Orwell endured, and despite the obvious injustices inflicted on both himself and his friends, he does not come across as bitter or resentful. I leave you with his words:When you have had a glimpse of such a disaster as this—and however it ends the Spanish war will turn out to have been an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter and physical suffering—the result is not necessarily disillusionment and cynicism. Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings.

  • Manny
    2019-06-07 22:41

    Celebrity Death Match Special: Homage to Catalonia versus 1984No winner declared because match never took place

  • William1
    2019-06-26 05:46

    A wonderful book full of the stink and horror of war. The accounts of the Republic's assaults on the Falange, save for one instance, are pitiful and sickening. Descriptions, too, of Madrid during the conflict the likes of which I have not come across anywhere else. Exquisite and appalling. Read concurrently with Hugh Thomas' The Spanish Civil War.

  • umberto
    2019-06-07 23:40

    I found this memoir-like book surprisingly interesting and readable in terms of his direct experience in the Spanish Civil War. I think George Orwell didn't try to be a hero there since he himself was gunned down by a shot through his throat one morning. He simply wrote, "The whole experience of being hit by a bullet is very interesting and I think it is worth describing in detail" (Chapter X, pp. 143-4) However, his valor didn't diminish and he still kept writing based on his political ideology. Therefore, while reading his lively words, it's like you're in the war yourself and thus we can't help admiring how he narrated his thought & ideas fearlessly. This obviously has since signified his unique character and integrity in this chaotic world.Linguistically, reading it has also helped me learn some new adjectives ended with -ish, for instance, longish, sweetish, greenish, sheepish, hellish, darkish, etc. for the first time.

  • John Wiswell
    2019-06-04 23:19

    As important as Animal Farm and 1984 are, Orwell was probably a better non-fiction writer than a fiction writer. In telling true events he is moved to outright explain his feelings and beliefs in perhaps less quotable, but far more important fashion than his fiction. You almost have to read his descriptions of the Spanish people in this book to truly appreciate the coldness of 1984's characters. Dealing with real people and real struggle he wrote his truly most memorable passages - such as why he was disappointed that his time in combat wasn't bloodier. His fiction is about ideals, but this non-fiction on a real warm, is about humanity. If you liked (or feared) Doublespeak, you must read his observations on what the media did in Spain following the resistence. Fiction has many times surpassed non-fiction in its expressiveness and meaning, but this is a case of extremely political non-fiction that is too salient to be ignored just because his other books are more popular.

  • Dean Dalton
    2019-06-23 22:18

    Possibly my favourite book ever. I couldn't put it down. This will not be the case for everyone but as I have always had an interest in the Spanish civil war I found Orwell's account brilliant and much better than regular Spanish civil war books. Orwell conveys with great clarity the boredom, confusion, and lies of the Spanish civil war. I would recommend anybody who wants to learn about the Spanish civil war (an extremely complex subject) to first look to this book.

  • Ken Moten
    2019-06-04 03:20

    "And I hope the account I have given is not too misleading. I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan. In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now: beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events. And beware of exactly the same things when you read any other book on this period of the Spanish war." "I remember saying once to Arthur Koestler, 'History stopped in 1936', at which he nodded in immediate understanding. We were both thinking of totalitarianism in general, but more particularly of the Spanish civil war." - "Looking Back on the Spanish War" (1943)Ideology, War, and Journalistic Ethics If I had to describe this book thematically those bold terms would have to do. The reputation of this book being what it is, I already knew that the first two themes would play a big role, but I was very impressed with Orwell's handling of the role of, or rather, abuse of journalism in wartime. I had already a "broad" knowledge of this war in Spain, but the details from an active participant like George Orwell helped give me an interesting angle to view it from. While I am not going to go into too much detail on the book (since it is recommended that you read it yourself), I will try to sum-up this narrative based on the three themes in the best way possible.Ideology I mainly want to talk about the political groups on the left since most of this story deals with the events leading up to, through and after the Barcelona May Days of 1937 which resulted in the purge/suppression of the leftist group Orwell was fighting with. Orwell had no specific political leanings beyond left-leaning anti-fascist views, by the time he left Spain he would be a Democratic Socialist who was stridently anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin. During the beginning of the civil war, Catalonia may have had dozens of political factions backing the government against the Francoist, but they mainly fell under two trade unions: Confederación Nacional del Trabajo [anarcho-syndicalist] (CNT) and Unión General de Trabajadores [socialist] (UGT). The group Orwell was fighting with called Partido Obero de Unificacíon Marxista (POUM). POUM was a revolutionary Marxist group that was formed from both of the main trade unions, but mostly under the sway of the CNT during the war. POUM believed that revolution should happen concurrently with the war and the main reason that Orwell was with them was because they were the only leftist group that would have him (the Communists did not trust him). The main opposition to POUM was the Partido Socialista Unificado de Cataluña (PSUC) which was the communist faction in Catalonia and was backed by the UGT and, more importantly, the Soviet Union. They were a relatively small group in Catalonia at the beginning of the war thanks to the large appeal of the anarchists, but as the fascists got more international support and only Mexico and the USSR would help the government, the UGT and PSUC would Machiavelli their way into complete domination on the ground in Barcelona. As the PSUC was co-opted by the Soviet secret police and the government mindful of Stalin's support, Orwell and many of the others who fought with him on the front lines in Huesca and other places would, after the Barcelona May Days, find themselves enemies of the state. In fact, half of the fighting in he book is between the different leftist factions rather than the fascist. When the Soviet-backed forces gain control on-the-ground, everyone associated with the CNT and POUM are suppressed and mass arrest and killings begin. After Orwell's commanding officer Georges Kopp is detained, he and his wife escaped Spain a month before his own indictment was published. He would later say that though the Spanish secret police was menacing like Germany's, it lacked the efficiency of the Gestapo (the comical inefficiency of Spanish bureaucracy is another big theme in this book). War"In trench warfare five things are important: firewood, food, tobacco, candles, and the enemy." Now, in a war narrative it is interesting that the war be the most mundane part of the story. His time in basic training and time spent on the front-lines make up the first part of the book and is used to frame what like was life away from the political skulduggery in Barcelona. Here is where the warring factions among the left mixed fraternized and died as equals. POUM militia, because of its political leanings, stressed equality to point that even commanding officers were addressed as "Comrade." Wherever the 29th division (POUM) went, it brought its revolutionary policies which meant full collectivization of everything, no institutionalized anything, and only proletarian ideals would be tolerated. Because POUM was effectively broke, the militia was short of everything it needed and the bureaucratic grid-lock in Barcelona and Madrid made getting nothing easy. It is also here in which we will encounter the fascists that would eventually overrun Catalonia (after this book's cut-off date). Of all the dangers which he faced in Barcelona, it is on the front where Orwell had his actual flirtation with death. This would be a blessing in disguise as it gave him time to flee Spain and not be captured by the Communists as he returned from his tour of duty (like other unlucky CNT-affiliated soldiers who dodged death from Franco only to meet it by Stalin).Journalism in wartime This may be the most important theme of the book or at least 2/3 of it. For George Orwell the biases of the people covering the war helped influenced a lot of its worst aspects. He is not simply talking about the lack of support for the Spanish government internationally, but the lack of general information or questioning of the suppression of the POUM. Because of the POUM's revolutionary beliefs and former association with Leon Trotsky, Stalin felt that the most pressing goal in Spain was to crush the POUM and CNT. The fighting in Barcelona gave the Soviets the pretext that they needed and their press affiliates in England (mainly The Daily Worker) became the official line that many other western media would reprint. Orwell was enraged by seeing people who had died fighting the Francoist rebels labeled Fascist while Communist partisans who had never seen action were called war-heroes. "Early in life I have noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotionalsuperstructures over events that had never happened." - "Looking Back on the Spanish War" (1943) He prints at length newspaper articles that accuse the POUM and anarchists in-general of being Troskyist and crypto-fascist, and he systematically shows why these accusations contradict the facts and even themselves in certain cases. If you have read his essay Politics and the English Language you can guess some of the ways he breaks down the wild accusations against the anarchists by the Communists. In essence though, the disregard of facts by journalists who only want to enhance an already agreed-upon narrative is what he rails about up to the end of the book. I was not expecting this discourse from what I previously knew about the book, but appreciated it given its timeless relevancy. The book itself is written very clearly and simplistically, though, I wish it was not so jam-packed with information. Given Orwell's insistence on precise prose, there was no filler in this book--even the chapters devoted to explaining the political lines of the anarchists and communists and Orwell's explanation of what he knew of the Barcelona May Days felt necessary, though he gives you the option of skipping them (how many authors tell you,"yeah, you can skip this chapter because it is not THAT necessary for this story?"). Orwell does not take himself too seriously and, as the quote in the beginning of this book shows, he warned against taking this book as 100% objective as he will naturally have conscience and sub-conscience bias. Though the book was savaged by the press (surprise!) when it first came out in 1938 and flopped, it has been hailed by most historians and participants in the War in Catalonia as the most objective account of Spanish Civil War. "And then England--southern England, probably the sleekest landscape in the world. It is difficult when you pass that way, especially when you are peacefully recovering from sea-sickness with the plush cushions of a boat-train carriage under your bum, to believe that anything is really happening anywhere...I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs."

  • Chris
    2019-06-15 03:24

    Orwell left England in 1936 and spend six months fighting fascism in Spain - actually fighting fascism, like, throwing grenades and living in trenches, and being shot at, and crawling across 'no man's land' in the mud. He was a member of P.O.U.M., 'Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista', or the Workers Party of Marxist Unification. Orwell was not a Marxist, but a strident opponent of Franco's fascist forces. The book, like his 'Road to Wigan Pier', is a collection of Orwell's observations told in his always clear, frank and honest style, which reflect his admirable morals, common decency and pragmatic political views. A passage near the end exemplifies this: "Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings. And I hope the account I have given is not misleading. I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan. In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now: beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact and the distortion inevitable caused by my having seen only one corner of events. And beware of exactly the same things when you read any other book on this period of the Spanish war."It's both difficult and unnecessary to chose the best from among the Orwell canon, as the books are so different and always of such a high quality, but 'Homage to Catalonia' is essential and engrossing reading for any Orwell enthusiast, aspiring journalist, or student of 20th century conflict.

  • Asma awadh
    2019-06-16 23:37

    لطالما كانت الحرب الأهلية الإسبانية موضوعاً محيراً بالنسبة لي كنت أضعها دائماً ضمن خانة المواضيع المهمة والواجب قرائتها, كنت لا أترك رواية تتحدث ولو بشكل بسيط عن تلك الحرب الا وقد أشتريتها وهذا سبب قرائتي لكتب كاميلو خوسيه ثيلا ومحاولة قراءة لمن تقرع الأجراس لـ ارنست همنغواي لكن لم استطع من إكمالها حتى الآن ,إلى ان اتى هذا الكتاب الشافي ,كانت رؤيتي لتلك الحرب رؤية سطحية جمهوريين من حزب اليسار يصارعون فرانكو المدعوم من قبل الأنظمة الفاشية في المنطقة فقط بعد القراءة اتضحت الصورة أكثر صحيح انها ظلت حرب بين اليمين واليسار لكن ذلك اليسار لم يكن موحداً بمافيه الكفاية لمواجهة القوة الفاشية .كتالونيا وبعاصمتها برشلونة كانت مركزاً لتلك المنظمات والنقابات العمالية ذات التوجه اليساري التي كانت تحارب جنباً الى جنب في الجبهة عند خط النار في مواجهة قوات فرانكو لكن في برشلونة الأمور كانت تختلف فتلك النقابات اختلفت فيما بينها وأصبحت تتراشق التهم بين بعضها البعض متهمة كل واحدة الأخرى بالخيانة لصالح قوات فرانكو ,أحد من تلقوا تلك التهم هي نقابة الـ P.O.U.M التي كان كاتبنا يحارب ضمن صفوفها لك ان تتخيل مشهد التوتر الذي ساد المدينة وحرب الشوارع التي بدأت بينهم فيما بعد."الكل يصدق بقصص فظائع العدو و ويكذب قصص فظائع الجانب الذي هو معه"اقتباس أحبتته لأنه دليل على أن كاتبنا كان يعترف بوجود بعض الفظائع للجانب الذي كان يحارب معه رغم أنها كما يصفها كاتبنا, لاتقارن كلياً بفظائع النظام الفاشي بقيادة فرانكو ,لكننا هنا لانقف صف الحياد وندعيه بل يجب علينا الوقوف لجانب ضد اخر ,هذا ماحاول ايضاحه كاتبنا بعد هذا الأقتباس.لو لم أكن إسبانية لوددت أن أكون لكثرت ما امتدح جورج اورويل صفاتهم رغم الظروف التي كانت تمر فيها البلاد من صراعات الا أن اخلاقهم كانت شهمة ولطيفة وأذكر هنا حادثة ورد ذكرها في الكتاب حين قام مفتشون بتفتيش غرفة الفندق الخاصة به ,بوجود زوجته, لأشتباهم به طبعاً بانتمائه لنقابة الـP.O.U.M فتشوا كل شيء تقريباً ولم يجدوا شيئاً ضده لم يتبقى الا السرير الذي كان بالإمكان أخفاء الكثير والكثير من الأشياء التي تثبت ادانته إلا أنهم لم يستطيعوا أن يفتشوه والسبب أن زوجته كانت جالسة عليه واحتراماً لها لم يستطيعوا أمرها بالقيام عن السرير,قالها في جملة جميلة "إنني أحمل ذكريات سيئة عن إسبانيا, وجميلة عن الإسبان"

  • Magrat Ajostiernos
    2019-06-02 01:36 crónica cargada de duras reflexiones pero también de mucha ironía y humor. El relato de Orwell es muy sesgado y particular, narra su punto de vista sobre los meses que pasó en Cataluña y Aragón, no es en absoluto un tratado de Historia sino que todo lo conocemos desde su opinión... y quizás por eso sea tan interesante. La visión de un inglés que se mete de lleno no solo en una guerra sino en medio de la sociedad española en plena guerra es algo que merece la pena ser leído. Me han gustado muchas cosas de este libro, se me ha encogido el corazón en algunos puntos pero también he llegado a reírme de verdad (sobretodo con algunas reflexiones sobre nuestro caracter "típico español"). Un libro, a fin de cuentas, que me ha marcado.

  • Luís C.
    2019-06-24 06:28

    In 1937, on his arrival in Spain, Orwell, with his knowledge of weapons acquired during the five years in the Burmese imperial police, was appointed instructor in the POUM militia.He participates then the fighting raging in Aragon and assists, amazed, during the month of May in the liquidation of the POUM by the PSUC, the Spanish Communist party formed by the federation of different parties of Stalinist persuasion.The POUM clearly anarchist party, slandered, is officially declared illegal in June.It will be for Orwell a traumatism that will never forget and which inspired a fierce hatred for all totalitarian regimes.He returned to fight but quickly shot in the throat. He then returned to England, after going to France where his wife was waiting.This book, very powerful, is to Orwell an opportunity to explain the motives of his commitment and horror meanders of a policy that is ready for any dirty tricks to achieve his goal.Orwell gives us the poignant story of one of her struggles for freedom, it looks like one of his Spanish cries resounded during this tragic war.

  • Alice Poon
    2019-06-11 05:44

    This is George Orwell's vivid account of his six-month (from December 1936 to June 1937) direct involvement in the Spanish Civil War. Other than recounting action-packed combative episodes on the war frontier and treacherous street-fighting scenes in Barcelona, the author also gives a clear-eyed analysis of the mind-boggling multi-faction political strife that prevailed. This essentially boils down to a three-sided struggle between the pro-Franco Fascists (prone to feudalism), the Russian-commissar-controlled Republican government (with bourgeois tendencies) and the revolutionary working-class organizations. He also explains candidly why he thought that the surreptitious manoeuvres of the capitalistic European powers were at least part of the cause for the predictable failure of the Spanish democratic revolution.This factual non-fiction account reads much like gripping fiction, thanks to Orwell's fluid style of writing. It is as educational as it is informative.The one thing that sticks with me is the compliment that Orwell pays to the Spanish people. It makes me want to visit Spain and learn more about Spanish culture."I have the most evil memories of Spain, but I have very few bad memories of Spaniards..... They have, there is no doubt, a generosity, a species of nobility that do not really belong to the twentieth century."

  • Mahdi Lotfi
    2019-06-17 00:28

    درود بر کاتالونیا تشریح شخصی از تجارب و مشاهدات روزنامه نگار سیاسی و رمان نویس جورج اورول از جنگ داخلی اسپانیا است. چاپ اول در سال 1938 منتشر شد.

  • Baris Ozyurt
    2019-05-29 03:37

    "Çarpışıp da yenilmenin, hiç savaşmamaktan daha iyi sonuç verdiği örnekler vardır."(s.175)

  • Hadrian
    2019-05-28 01:44

    Orwell's memoir of his service fighting in leftist militia in the Spanish Civil War. "A comic opera with an occasional death." Dangers of extremist politics. Great story telling. It's all here.

  • Chrissie
    2019-06-05 06:35

    I find the Spanish Civil War confusing. Repeatedly I am given different interpretations and different explanations of the events. I have tried to get some understanding by reading many different books. This book is another added to all the others. I have found no one book that explained it all, with a clear overview.This book cannot be considered an explanation of this war; it was published nine months after Orwell left Spain, and so the war was still not over. He was there from December 1936 to June 1937. The book is instead about his own personal experiences - his time fighting on the Aragon front (Huesca, the Alcubierre Ridge and Monte Oscuro),his participation in the Barcelona street-fighting(May 1937) caused by internecine party conflicts, his return to the front where he was shot in the throat by a sniper and finally his hurried escape from Spain, thoroughly disillusioned with what he had seen and experienced and party politics in general. He went there to fight against the "Fascists"; he went there to fight for independence and to express solidarity with the working class. He fought with the POUM, Worker's Party of Marxist Unification which had Trotsky affiliations, but he was never interested in party politics. Orwell makes an attempt to collect all discussion of party politics in one separate chapter (in some books an appendix). But to understand the war you have to understand the politics, so I disliked this separation. I was lucky enough to be reading on a Kindle so I could continually look up the numerous acronyms in Orwell's telling. Although the Spanish Civil War can for simplification be seen as a fight between Franco, the Fascists’ attempt to overthrow the Republican Government under Caballero, the Republicans were not a homogeneous group. They were supported by socialists, anarchists and communists, but there was fighting between these groups too and between different communist groups. Stalin and his supporting communists backed the Republicans with military aid but at the same time were fighting the Trotsky communists. Western countries had their own interests in the outcome. The political discussion is not particularly clear: Orwell does not clearly distinguish between the different communist affiliations! Still, I am glad I read the book, to learn a little bit more.The split between the different sections of the book were for me disruptive. They read almost ad separate essays. How did I react to each? The first part depicting the front was interesting. As with all books depicting trench warfare, the combatants' real war is often more a fight against hunger and lice and rats and cold and lack of supplies and bad planning. Lack of organization was endemic in Spain. The real problem was rarely the enemy! In Barcelona we are shown an eye view of the street fighting. There is a lot of fighting in this book, and his neck wound experiences made me uncomfortable. Finally, the escape from Spain - well, it was sort of exciting. Three stars.

  • Lorenzo Berardi
    2019-05-30 05:43

    Reading anything by Orwell is always worth and rewarding. And "Homage to Catalonia" makes no exception. As someone pointed out somewhere the way Orwell understood and described Spain surpasses by far what Hemingway wrote pretty much in the same years about the same country.But while Hemingway spent his Spanish time in a sort of cosmopolitan way drinking, waking up late, watching bullfighting, munching tapas and generally having fun (Fiesta!), Orwell was freezing in trenches, picking up cigarettes butts in the mud, being assaulted by rats, dealing with faulty guns and being hunted down for no reason in a hostile Barcelona. Now, nobody forced Orwell to have that kind of unpleasant experience and he later reckoned how he was pretty much a fool in volunteering among the socialist forces in the Spanish Civil War, but let's be frank: could you picture Ernest doing the same without asking for a bloody daiquiri?The toll of that bell didn't really sound. The less convincing part of this book is actually the first one when Orwell reports about his -rather modest- military actions with that sort of detailed step by step account that I don't really like although we knew he had a diary with him so that we expect how every tiny detail here is true.But this doesn't happen very often and the most clever and interesting part of this book are the ones in which Orwell struggles with cold, lack of hygiene, disillusion and boredom. Something that another idealist like his countryman Lord Byron would have never mentioned. Orwell's observations on the people who fought (or better waited) with him in the trenches are also very good in pointing out the absolute naivete of the whole combatants, mostly teenagers coming from peasant families which were hardly able to communicate with the foreigners fighting at their side and for the same cause.And then come the hectic Barcelona days and the whole book stands up on a higher level. What we have is now Orwell at his very best. And writing about real paranoids, not fictional ones, in a way that wallops master Kafka. What I can say is that I have not only read but felt the feverish state of Orwell and a whole town where good and evil, friends and enemies got suddenly all mixed up with no apparent logic.This is a book to reread and to hold in a visible shelf. This is a book that teaches you something in its own way and will always do.

  • João Fernandes
    2019-06-13 02:22

    As ever, Orwell stands as a true journalist more than a novelist, keen on presenting the cold hard truth and his own judgement of it - both unblemished, and most importantly, distinguishable. Homage to Catalonia narrates the factual tale of the Spanish Civil War and life as a soldier for one of the leftist militias fighting against the rise of Franco's fascism in a torn apart country. From a foreign soldier seduced by the newfound equality of the Catalan region but horrified at the actual ineptitude of both training and tactics of this ineffective war, Orwell's depiction rises above the factual in his already proven ability to capture from the depths of memory the smallest yet most incredible pieces of humanity and fraternity (as in "Down and Out in Paris and in London")Once again, one marvels at Orwell's life: the same man who struggled against homelessness and abject poverty in both London and Paris now strives to deal with a poorly planned war, ends up shot through the goddamn throat and branded a Fascist traitor alongside his entire militia as a scapegoat for inter party conflict. Only such incredible experiences could have given him such a keen insight into the human conflict of classes that he so well depicts in all his works.

  • Daniel Leverquin
    2019-05-31 00:24

    Tematika totalitarizma me privlači, jer smo eto kao civilizacija njime označeni poslednjih 90 godina, ova knjiga nije samo svedočanstvo o ratu već i prikaz medijske manipulacije, raskola između komunista i anarhista u okvirima republikanske opcije u Španskom građanskom ratu.Slabo sam poznavao događaje vezane za ovaj sukob, ali sad je dosta jasnije, prosto je neverovatno koliko podseća na balkanske podele, bar meni, strančarenja, koja su dovela do do međusobnog ubijanja u okvirima republikanskih snaga.Opisi rata su odlični, ne pikazuje ga romantičnijim nego što je bio, nego što ga dugo posle mediji oslikavali. Orvel se ograđuje rekavši da je pristrasan(bio je na strani anarhista i trockista) ali demantuje, i dokazuje protivrečnosti u propagandi prostaljinističke štampe zapadnih država, navodeći tekstove i logičke greške, protivrečnosti u njima.Svakog koga zanima ova tema ovo bi trebalo da je neizbežna knjiga jer je autor bio u ratu, kao i u borbama u Barseloni, tako da ima dosta autentičnosti.

  • RK-ique
    2019-05-30 05:29

    I was quite impressed with Orwell's style in this book. I won't retell the story as plenty of others have done so already here. It's almost as if the reader is sitting with Orwell listening to him relate his adventures with little diversions to explain the broader situation. The voice is very much that of a relatively well educated middle-class British idealist of the early 20th century. It is earnest, honest and strives to be as clear as possible. In the end, Orwell basically admits to having let his ideals get him into something he didn't understand. Perhaps because the situation is finally not easy to understand, even when looking back on it. He does not regret what he has done. Nor does he believe that that Spanish civil war is for naught. Rather he seems to have lost a little more faith in human kind while still wanting the best. He has learned from the events but has avoided cynicism. An honourable man. He died too young.