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Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics) [Kindle Edition]

George Orwell , Julian Symon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this chronicle of his experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell brings to bear all the force of his humanity, passion and clarity, describing with bitter intensity the bright hopes and cynical betrayals of that chaotic and brutal episode in European history.


'An unrivalled picture of the rumours, suspicions and treachery of civil war' Anthony Beevor



Contains explanatory footnotes, as well as an appendix of removed chapters from the first edition.



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'An unrivalled picture of the rumours, suspicions and treachery of civil war' Anthony Beevor

Book Description

One of five George Orwell books specially reissued to celebrate the centenary of Orwell's birth

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More About the Author

George Orwell is one of England's most famous writers and social commentators. Among his works are the classic political satire Animal Farm and the dystopian nightmare vision Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was also a prolific essayist, and it is for these works that he was perhaps best known during his lifetime. They include Why I Write and Politics and the English Language. His writing is at once insightful, poignant and entertaining, and continues to be read widely all over the world.

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there.

At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.

It was around this time that Orwell's unique political allegory Animal Farm (1945) was published. The novel is recognised as a classic of modern political satire and is simultaneously an engaging story and convincing allegory. It was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which finally brought him world-wide fame. Nineteen Eighty-Four's ominous depiction of a repressive, totalitarian regime shocked contemporary readers, but ensures that the book remains perhaps the preeminent dystopian novel of modern literature.

Orwell's fiercely moral writing has consistently struck a chord with each passing generation. The intense honesty and insight of his essays and non-fiction made Orwell one of the foremost social commentators of his age. Added to this, his ability to construct elaborately imaginative fictional worlds, which he imbued with this acute sense of morality, has undoubtedly assured his contemporary and future relevance.

George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant 6 Dec. 2006
By Wally
Format:Paperback
This book is truly essential reading for anyone interested in the Spanish Civil War, or for that matter anyone with an interest in war, Communism, Socialism, Anarchism or in Literature. Orwell's account of the Spanish Civil War is more than just a brilliant account of life in a civil war, it is a first hand account of the horrors of Stalinism, and Orwell's experiences in Spain explain why he later wrote his best known works, 1984 and Animal Farm, to warn of the dangers which he knew so well.

The book starts out recounting Orwell's experiences of arriving in Spain as an eager volunteer wanting to help fight Fascism. He is shocked to discover the disorganisation and inefficiency of the Republican militias. The book then goes on to give a telling account of the boredom of trench warfare, where the naïve Orwell wants to be able to kill at least one Fascist to do his part in the struggle for freedom, but ends up mainly having to contend with lice, rats and the freezing weather.

This alone might make for an interesting read, but the book really comes into its own in the latter chapters, where Orwell describes the struggle going on within the Republican controlled region of Spain. A wounded Orwell returns to Barcelona, where the Stalinists who have seized control of the government turn on their political rivals. Orwell is well placed to describe the May fighting between the Stalinist police who wish to enforce state control and the idealistic anarchists who want to defend their revolutionary gains.

Following the government victory, Orwell's small political party the POUM is made a scapegoat for the fighting and is outlawed. A stunned Orwell is forced to go on the run from the very Republic for which he had been so willing to risk his life.
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91 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why did it take me 31 years to read this 24 July 2003
Format:Paperback
No, I am not that slow a reader. I have a confession. I tend to prefer fiction, am sceptical about autobiographies and cringe at travelogues. Quite simply I nearly fell off my perch reading this book. I picked up Homage to Catalonia after reading Anthony Beevors history of the Spanish Civil War. I cannot emphasise how much enjoyed these books. Beevor is interesting and educational...I learnt a lot. Orwell...wow! Lucid, vivid, charmingly naive (and aware of it). Ultimately beautiful. Ever wonder why Barcelona has Placa George Orwell? Read this an find out. Read this book to find out what REAL anarchists stand for (actually read both Orwell and Beevor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Orwell had six rules for good writing:

Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print
Never use a long word where a short one will do
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous

These rules pretty much describe Orwell's own writing style, which is simple and straightforward, yet elegant and engaging. He was a man who lived a very full and somewhat eccentric life, giving up a career in the Burmese police force to wander around Britain as a Tramp and to live in poverty in Paris. He was very connected to working people and so understandably was drawn to the socialist side against Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War (1936-9).

This is a remarkably detailed account of an ordinary foot soldier's life in wartime - comparable to Robert Graves' `Goodbye to All That' about his time in the trenches in WW1. Orwell doesn't have the big picture of how the war is going or what the strategy is but can see the hopeless organisation and pitiful logistics of the Socialists. He's cold, hungry, ill clothed and badly armed but it's remarkable how cheerful he and his comrades remain. I would guess that this is an almost universal account of the nonsense of war from a soldier's point of view.

In the second part of the book he goes on leave to Barcelona and gives an account of the complex political rivalry between the socialist factions.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A memorable account of an almost forgotten war. 21 April 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Spanish Civil War of 1936, might make your average 21st Century schoolboy scratch his head in ignorance, and half-imagine some sunny gun battles around the swimming pool of a rowdy Benidorm hotel. But to the idealistic and humanitarian George Orwell, it was the long-awaited chance to do his bit against the ever growing threat of Fascism; the political 'desease' as he saw it, that would eventually explode across history with the rise of Hitler. What follows is a book of two blurred but seperate parts. The first, being Orwell's diary account of his experiences in the ugly, unromantic, and at most times, incredibly dreary reality of a Spanish trench under-fire.
Orwell's gift of description, and his honest, endearing attempts to make sense of the human and political chaos that ensues, makes this first part of the book a fascinating insight into a war that has been almost blotted from history by the enormity of world war two.
In the following chapters (added on as appendixes) we are given a frank lecture on the political meat of the war itself. This highly informative catalogue of the many bewildering factions of the conflict: the goals, hypocracies, and internecine betrayals, might be dry reading for the virgin Orwell lover of Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty Four.
Orwell - always political, but usually incredibly subtle in his opinions - has taken his silk gloves off here. This can be heavy going at times, but imagine how tough fighting an actual war was! Casual Orwell fans please persevere. A book you certainly wont forget about a war that just about has been.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep yer head down George.
Orwell's thoughts and experiences of the political shenanigans in 1930's Spain.
Published 7 days ago by Imogen Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, eye-witness account
Book arrived, all well. Homage to Catalonia is Orwell's eyewitness account of part of the Spanish Civil War, both as a soldier at the front, fighting with the POUM, sponsored by... Read more
Published 15 days ago by robin bath
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for historical context of early Franco era
Overall, not one of Orwell's best literary works. However, it does demonstrate the complex politics of its day and the carnage and suffering of the Spanish civil war. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Mrs. D. N. Rooney
4.0 out of 5 stars True history?
Orwell can be trusted because he knows all about bias. Reading this helps you understand the war better and appreciate clear writing.
Published 25 days ago by Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivery satisfied.
Delivery perfect. Look forward to reading at leisure at a later date.
Published 1 month ago by Globug
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What good luck that Orwell was there to be able to record things how they were.
Published 1 month ago by Craybut
5.0 out of 5 stars When men believed that war was peace
In its time a very controversial book for the European left, especially the Russian controlled communist parties and the beginning of the disillusionment of a great writer with the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wras
3.0 out of 5 stars slow postage
Good item brought as a present at Christmas but postage was very very slow
Published 1 month ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars and a brilliant
Quick, as described, and a brilliant book
Published 2 months ago by Mr D.
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic account
Written in a very journalistic style Orwell straightforwardly give a valuable account of his time in The Spanish Civil War. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Colin Banks
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