The Battle for Spain.

As an addendum to my review of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, I want to recommend Antony Beevor’s The Battle for Spain: the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. It’s a tome. I’ve been dipping in and out of it for a couple of years now, not the kind of book I can read from beginning to end but it’s endlessly fascinating, thoughtful and more than comprehensive: it’s the book on the Spanish Revolution.

Especially interesting to me is the chapter on the ‘Intellectual’ involvement and relationship to the struggle. Following the unprecedented horrors of the First World War, art could no longer justify a moral detachment from politics and war. Writers like George Orwell and André Malraux were actively involved in the fighting and many more writers and artists were concerned with it in some form or other: Hemingway, of course; Jon Dos Passos, Pablo Neruda, WH Auden, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Cecil Day Lewis and Paul Eluard.

Of course, being who I am I’ve become enthralled with this one woman, Simone Weil, who was an anarchist activist, mystic, philosopher. She said: “I can, therefore I am.” I feel a new obsession coming on…



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