The Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through a Country’s Hidden Past by Giles Tremlett (Faber and Faber, 2012) Spaniards are reputed to be amongst Europe’s most forthright people. So why have they kept silent about the terrors of their Civil War and the rule of General Franco? This apparent ‘pact of forgetting’ inspired writer Giles Tremlett to embark on a journey around Spain and its history. He found the ghosts of Spain everywhere, almost always arguing. Who caused the Civil War? Why do Basque terrorists kill? Why do Catalans hate Madrid? Did the Islamist bombers who killed 190 people in 2004 dream of a return to Spain’s Moorish past? Tremlett’s curiosity led him down some strange and colourful byroads, and brought him unexpected insights into the Spanish character.
What’s up with Catalonia? Edited by Liz Castro (Catalonia Press, 2013)
35 experts explain the causes which impel them to the separation through essays on Catalan history, economics, politics, language, and culture.
Homage to Barcelona by Colm Toibin (Pan Macmillan, 2002) Written with deep knowledge and affection, Homage to Barcelona is a sensuous and beguiling portrait of a great Mediterranean city. This book celebrates one of Europe’s greatest cities – a cosmopolitan hub of vibrant architecture, art, culture and nightlife. It moves from the story of the city’s founding and its huge expansion in the nineteenth century to the lives of Gaudi, Mir , Picasso, Casals and Dali. It also explores the history of Catalan nationalism, the tragedy of the Civil War, the Franco years and the transition from dictatorship to democracy which Colm Toibin witnessed in the 1970s. Written with deep knowledge and affection, Homage to Barcelona is a sensuous and beguiling portrait of a unique Mediterranean port and an adopted home.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell (Penguin, 2000) ‘Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism as I understand it’. Thus wrote Orwell following his experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War, chronicled in Homage to Catalonia. Here he 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 episode: the revolutionary euphoria of Barcelona, the courage of ordinary Spanish men and women he fought alongside, the terror and confusion of the front, his near-fatal bullet wound and the vicious treachery of his supposed allies. A firsthand account of the brutal conditions of the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia includes an introduction by Julian Symons in Penguin Modern Classics.