The tempering of idealism: writers in the Spanish Civil War

Grace, Anthony George (1995) The tempering of idealism: writers in the Spanish Civil War. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The object of this thesis is to examine and illustrate the unique relationship between literature and the Spanish Civil War, showing how this historical event marked a hugely significant point of development in the collective psyche of Western intelligentsia and became the crux of "commitment" in literature. As well as a general survey of the historical background to the war itself - the complexity of which has often been rather misleadingly subordinated in favour of examining the corpus of work produced by "international" writers from much the same perspective which they themselves had - the thesis goes on to examine and compare the involvement of three writers: Andre Malraux, George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway. These men were all roughly of the same age, in their mid-thirties when the war broke out; they were all established writers and unlike many other writers who went to Spain in their early twenties, this trio brought considerable experience of other struggles in other parts of the world with them. This experience translated itself into the finest and most balanced writing on the Spanish conflict. The detailed structure of the thesis is as follows: Chapter 1. - provides an account of the historical background to the Spanish Civil War, essential to an understanding of the conflict. Chapter 2. - sets out the international political context, the role of the writer in the Thirties, the politicisation of literature, and the role of writers in the Spanish Civil War. Chapter 3. - is a profile of Andre Malraux, his early life and the development of his political and artistic consciousness leading up to his involvement in Spain, in particular his experiences in Indochina and his relationship with the Communist party. It examines Malraux's role in forming the Espana squadron, and includes a detailed analysis of the novel L'Espoir based on his experiences of the first months of the Spanish Civil War and published while it was still going on. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the extent to which Spain was a political and artistic turning point for Malraux. Chapter 4. - is a profile of George Orwell, his early life and his artistic and political development leading to his decision to go to Spain. Because of his enlistment in the POUM militia as opposed to the Communist dominated International Brigades, his experience of Barcelona and the Aragon front as opposed to Madrid and in particular his involvement in the internecine struggle between counterrevolutionary Communist/Socialist forces and revolutionary Anarchist/POUM forces in Barcelona in May 1937, Orwell's Spanish experience is seen as atypical of the majority of writers involved in Spain. In a detailed examination of Homage to Catalonia, the form and authenticity of the book are assessed. His experiences in Spain, in particular his direct exposure to communist-inspired political terror and the power of propaganda, are seen as a cathartic turning point for Orwell, from Homage to Catalonia to later works exposing the dangers of totalitarianism like Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Chapter 5. - a profile of Ernest Hemingway, this chapter examines Hemingway's early life in the United States, in the First World War and his experiences as a reporter and writer in Europe between the wars. It goes on to look at Spain's role in his artistic development, the influence of politics on Hemingway and his unsuccessful attempts to divorce his art from politics. His decision to go to Spain in 1937 is examined as is his experience in Spain as a war-correspondent. The Fifth Column is discussed as a prelude to a detailed examination of For Whom the Bell Tolls highlighting the novel's formal complexity and Hemingway's ambition to produce a work of major stature. Chapter 6. - this concluding chapter compares the texts and experiences of Malraux, Orwell and Hemingway with each other and with those of others who wrote on Spain. There is an examination of the extraordinary level of intertextuality evidenced in works derived from the Spanish Civil War which provided a unique set of experiences for a generation of writers from all over the world and posed some crucial questions about the role of the writer in history and the relationship between politics and literature.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Romance literature, Military history.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Hook, Professor Andrew
Date of Award: 1995
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1995-71667
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2022 15:24
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.71667

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