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Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

George Orwell , Julian Symon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Jun 2003 Penguin Modern Classics

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

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New edition edition (5 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141187379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141187372
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description


'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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona, the day before I joined the militia, I saw an Italian militiaman standing in front of the officers' table. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant 6 Dec 2006
By Wally
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 nave 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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83 of 89 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
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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32 of 35 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
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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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative on all fronts except the conjugal 22 Jan 2003
By Tom
I first read Homage to Catalonia in the final year of my degree course as required reading for a course on the Spanish Civil War. Orwell's account is well written, descriptive and remarkably fair handed. It also scores over most other accounts as it is written entirely from his own experiences and is a useful counter to academic studies. For a newcomer to the topic the acronyms he bandies around are bound to be confusing, not even an entire chapter on background quite gets around this problem. However this follows from the confusing nature of the subject matter itself rather than Orwell's handling of it.
Orwell had the fortune, or misfortune, to be in Barcelona during the May Days when the Stalinists in the Republican Government turned against their own. It is Orwell's experiences here that prevent this from being merely a routine exercise in decrying the horrors of war. His scathing account of the Stalinist Terror in Spain was the reason this book was long ignored by the European Leftist intelligentsia, as yet unprepared to come to terms with the moral failings of the Soviet Union and prey to Soviet propaganda. So successful was Soviet propaganda in this respect in the west that the history of the Spanish Revolution remained largely unwritten until the 1970s. Orwell was one of the very few to buck this trend (see also Borkenau, "The Spanish Cockpit") and was vilified as a result.

Homage to Catalonia is a homage to the anarchist revolution, "the first time I had seen a town where the working class where in the saddle" and a requiem for its inevitable darkening and ultimate overthrow. For those who see the war in terms of communism/liberalism versus fascism he provides a much needed balance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So evocative of the time, with everyone defined by ...
So evocative of the time, with everyone defined by their political allegiance. This man seems to know no fear volunteering as he does for hazardous operations and predicting his... Read more
Published 2 days ago by W. G. Vale
5.0 out of 5 stars Homage To Catalonia
This is a book for everyone who loves Spain. Even though the Civil War is a horrible period in Spanish and World history, the innate goodness of the ordinary Spanish people shines... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Dominic Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Precision Reportage
The writing is as incisive and honest as always with Orwell. I never really understood the Spanish Civil War until reading this (its as unstraight-forward as Ireland). Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Frost
4.0 out of 5 stars Where is the enemy?
This vivid account of a few months spent fighting the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War reminded me that Orwell was a talented journalist as well as a writer of satirical fiction. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Antenna
5.0 out of 5 stars Same duplicity by authority
A wonderful book that sets out the crushing of visions of higher ideals for humanity by the ruling powers and how these same powers control and do what they wish with the ordinary... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr Christophe Kitcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Homage to Catalonia
Superbly written account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil war, George Orwell brings the horrors of the time to life and highlights the futility of that struggle....
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars the master
George Orwell was an immense talent, his ability to capture the imagination of the reader from the first few words on the page extraordinary, and this is for me the best of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read when compared to other books I have read about...
I had read a few books previous to this book about the Spanish Civil War and Revolution and by far this book was the most easy to read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Norman Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!
Quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. You feel as if you were there experiencing with him what was happening.
Published 3 months ago by mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatn Read
Great book by a great writer - don't miss it. If you are interested in the events in Spain in the Civil war this is a very interesting read indeed. Read more
Published 3 months ago by KNUT
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