Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Soldiers of Salamis

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Soldiers of Salamis

Article excerpt

FICTION Soldiers of Salamis, by Javier Cercas. Bloomsbury, November 2004. $14.95

This riveting novel, a huge best seller in Cercas's native Spain (it subsequently has been translated into fifteen languages and has won numerous literary prizes in Europe and Latin America), tells a "true tale" with such exquisite postmodern quirkiness and conviction that one never knows what is "real" and what is invented by a novelist named Ccrcas in his struggle to write a novel about the messy aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. The "true" anecdote flows from the "execution" of Rafael Sánchez Mazas, the most important theorist of fascist Spain in the 19305, who was captured by Republican forces outside of Barcelona in 1939 and executed along with other prisoners. But in the confusion of the shooting, Sánchez Mazas managed to escape and hide in the dense woods for a time before being caught by a young soldier who, at the moment he cocked his rifle to shoot one of the Republican's most hated enemies, somehow managed to shout "There's nobody over here" in response to his sergeant's query. …

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