Homage to Catalonia

By George Orwell,

Book cover of Homage to Catalonia

Book description

Homage to Catalonia remains one of the most famous accounts of the Spanish Civil War. With characteristic scrutiny, Orwell questions the actions and motives of all sides whilst retaining his firm beliefs in human courage and the need for radical social change.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series…


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Why read it?

10 authors picked Homage to Catalonia as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I recall reading it in my late teens, less as the classic it was on the barbarous Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, and more as a personal discovery by Orwell of how his democratic socialist instincts were sharpened and shaped by the buffeting swirl of ideological clashes and bitter sectarian struggles within the inspirational resistance to Franco’s fascism in Spain. As he witnessed the heroism and the horror, the passion and sometimes the ulterior purposes of these competing groups, Homage to Catalonia for me was a gripping narrative, climaxing in the internecine firefight in Barcelona where the left helped…

From Peter's list on thrilling page-turners.

Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War, on the side of the anti-Franco Republicans, between December 1936 and June 1937. He fought for the Marxist POUM militia in Barcelona and at other flashpoints in Catalonia. As time went on, however, he became disenchanted by the fractures between the different parties on the Republican side—and, in particular, the rise of the Soviet-sponsored Communist line. By the end of the work, though still committed to socialism and the overthrow of Franco’s Nationalists, he is profoundly uneasy about the brand of Communism holding sway—an unease which found subsequent voice in Animal Farm and…

From Michael's list on to confront the forks in life’s road.

What the Spanish Civil War meant to the world, told by an outsider who was plunged into it–by choice. Possibly the first book I read about the conflict (my copy is from 1967–Beacon Press). This little volume (232 pages) epitomizes the well-loved book, splashed with coffee stains, bristling with Post-Its, and peppered with underlining and notes. The author of the better-known Animal Farm and 1984 doesn’t spare us his strong opinions, as in this description of a Russian agent: “… it was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies–unless one counts journalists.” But…

I was forced to read this at school, but it immediately made me want to visit Barcelona. I first went when I was 19 and have been back several times subsequently, re-reading the book on each visit. Part travel narrative, part history, part polemic, part love story, part gripping adventure yarn – you get something different out of Homage to Catalonia each time you read it. Here is Orwell on the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s great landmark, still unfinished 85 years later and now the city’s principal tourist attraction: “A modern cathedral, and one of the most hideous buildings in the…

From Bradt's list on inspired us to go travelling.

Poor Orwell, he just wants to go fight in the Spanish Civil War and kill some fascists. When he gets there he finds that the Republican “side” is wracked by infighting, manipulated by shady overseas actors, and misrepresented by the Anglophone press. Loyal friends are betrayed, thrown in jail, and executed. Also, everyone’s clothes are falling apart, the guns misfire, the passwords are hard to remember, and it’s cold. And Mrs. Orwell is along for the ride, although we don’t hear her side of it. While there is no obvious moral, as there is in Animal Farm, (“Don’t do…

From Moro's list on ideological adventure.

If you are going to live in Spain then you need to know the background of the Spanish civil war. This is a sensitive subject, especially amongst inland villages where opinions are still divided over 80 years later. Orwell was originally a correspondent sent to report on the war, but it wasn't long before he joined the fighting against the fascists.

From Alan's list on emigrating to Spain.

This is an evocative, first-hand account of Orwell’s time in Spain in the early months of the Spanish Civil War, that makes clear the conflict between the revolutionary spirit of the anarchists and Trotskyists and the more conservative, counter-revolutionary activities of the Communist Party and Republican government institutions. Although the US, Britain, and France declined to get directly involved in supporting the government because they identified it with revolutionary communism, that strategy of “non-intervention” actually strengthened the role of the Communists in Spain, whose main effort was to suppress revolutionary activity.

The best known book about the Spanish Civil War in English remains George Orwell’s memoir of his time in a Trotskyite militia group. Having gone to Spain convinced he was joining a crusade against fascism, the British democratic socialist found himself fighting not only Franco’s Nationalists but other left-wingers on his own side when powerbrokers loyal to the Soviet Union began cracking down on political dissenters. Soon Orwell was fleeing Spain in fear of his life. Homage to Catalonia remains a classic account of how idealism can curdle on the battlefield and comradeship take second place to the demands of…

From Christopher's list on international intervention Spanish Civil War.

Unlike Hemingway, Orwell chose not to use fiction for his 1938 account of the Spanish Civil War. He went to Spain in 1936 to join the POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification) to help in the fight against the Fascists. He served on the front lines for several months and was nearly killed by a sniper’s bullet. His account of his time in Spain took years to find an audience because by the time it was published World War II was already underway. Nonetheless, the Spanish Civil War a turning point in Orwell’s life and helped him grow into an…

To feel the Spanish civil war from the start and from the inside, George Orwell journal is a must read. The writer, whose love for Spain and Catalonia was well-known, fought with the Republicans in 1936 and 1937, at the start of the conflict. He was appalled by the way the British journalists and newspapers were reporting on it, saying that it was so faraway from the truth. His dystopia 1984, has been greatly inspired by the Franco dictatorship that lasted from 1939 to 1975.

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