Homage to Catalonia (Harvest Book) Paperback – 22 Oct 1980
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|Paperback, 22 Oct 1980||
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'An unrivalled picture of the rumours, suspicions and treachery of civil war' Anthony Beevor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of five George Orwell books specially reissued to celebrate the centenary of Orwell's birth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Orwell's account of his time fighting in the Spanish civil war shows the futility of war and how those who would seem to be friends on the same side quickly descend into blame... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Melvin Mace
I first purchased this book in 1998 having just visited Barcelona. I read the first couple of pages, put it down and it stayed unread for 18 years. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bacchus
it becomes apparent how (queer) civil war can become, the deprivation gallor and literal back stabbing Orwell encounters for upholding one set of ideals simply cannot match the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mr
This is a most extraordinary book. I had read it years ago, and decided to re-read it during a visit to Spain. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Four Violets
What strikes me about Orwell and his writing is always the humanity of the man, and the honesty to test himself and his beliefs. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lady Fancifull
I first read this in an Orwell-fest of my own in the eighties. I returned to it as I was planning a visit to Catalonia. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mark Hayward