The Spanish Civil War in Literature

The Spanish Civil War in Literature

The Spanish Civil War in Literature

The Spanish Civil War in Literature

Excerpt

Few events of modern times have stirred the emotions and caught the imagination of intellectuals as did the Spanish Civil War of 1936— 1939. Discounted by militarists and some historians as little more than a proving ground for Axis armaments utilized in World War II, the internal struggle of the Spanish people has had a literary resonance seldom equalled. Neither of the two much larger conflicts that preceded and followed Spain's civil strife—World War I and World War II—inspired anything near the number of writers who have treated the Spanish Civil War. No necessary correlation exists between the military significance of an event and the quality or quantity of the literature that it inspires, and only the Holocaust offers a parallel with the Spanish Civil War as a source for artistic and literary outpourings. Other connections exist between these two tragic occurrences: Both produced an exodus of refugees from lands falling under the control of fascism; both saw hundreds of thousands of innocent victims die in concentration camps; and both are intimately linked to resultant long-term exile or expatriation. The extensive and significant literature of exile produced by both events is separable only with considerable difficulty from that specifically concerning the causes of exodus, the Civil War and the Holocaust. Unity within the diversity of languages and places of origin of these writings comes from the powerful shock and passion generated by both tragedies.

During most of the forty-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1936–1975), the literature written in exile, inspired by Spain's civil conflict, was enormously partisan, with only the pro-Franco or proFalangist perspective being published within Spain; dissenting points of view, frequently but not always those of exiles, were silenced or forced to find outlets in other countries. The first several years comprising . . .

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