Wednesday 19 October 2011

Orwell October: Homage to Catalonia

I had issues with this book, specifically boredom issues (sorry, George). Basically Orwell's account of what happened when he fought in the Spanish Civil War (he fought, it was dirty, he got bored a lot, he got injured, and something else boring happened in Barcelona), I just really couldn't find anything in this book to connect with or to kind of care about. Mostly I was confused, bewildered, and, overridingly, bored.

This is mostly my fault. I mean, not the fact that it was boring, but the fact that I found it boring because 1) I know nothing about the Spanish Civil War, 2) I hate wars in general, and stories concerning wars specifically, and 3) I kept expecting a wider discussion of the issues (as in The Road to Wigan Pier) and when none came I decided to get bored instead. This book was such a struggle that I had to 'treat' myself after reading a chapter with a chapter of the True Blood book that I was reading at the same time (trashy, but oh so entertaining!) I wanted to be interested in the issues but I really wasn't considering that (I think) the Spanish Civil War was pretty much a tiny prelude to the Second World War which I think, in terms of history, was a lot more important. Probably.

I was lying a tiny bit when I said I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War, because what I do know is that, at the start of The Way We Were, Katie goes on about it a lot, and it's all bad and to do with Fascism and Communism and stuff. More importantly, Robert Redford pretty much falls in love with her as she's saying all this stuff and caring and all, and I still don't really know what the Spanish Civil War is about but I know that Robert Redford is a beautiful man. And now I want to watch The Way We Were, instead of review this book. Damn. ANYWAY- basically I still know very little about the Civil War, except that it seems like the Anarchists and Communists and Socialists all ended up fighting each other rather than the Fascists, which seems a bit ridiculous to me. But that's war for you...

Basically, I'd only recommend this book if you know at least something about the Spanish Civil War, since Orwell is not exactly forthcoming with the background details on that front. Since the book was published in 1938, this is fully understandable, but it wasn't that helpful to me as a 21st Century gal. I might (might) read up on the Spanish Civil War one day on good old reliable Wikipedia, but Homage to Catalonia doesn't exactly compel me to do so. I'm sure it was really interesting and relevant at it's time of publication, but now, not so much. Sorry, George. But well done for fighting and stuff, I'm sure you were very brave!

In other news, Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris was very good if you're looking for vampires and were-things and Sookie Stackhouse-ness. Which, I've got to say, I enjoy more than war. Just putting that out there.


  1. "And now I want to watch The Way We Were, instead of review this book. Damn."

    Nice. You should do that. I say this mainly because I like Barbra Streisand.

  2. Too bad this was such a dry read. I usually enjoy books about historical events. I'll probably pass on this one.

  3. @Alice- I didn't, but I'm definitely going to have to soon! Last time I watched it I fell asleep though...

    @Trish- If you already know stuff about the Spanish Civil War then I'd say go for it, otherwise I definitely wouldn't bother- I wish I hadn't, in fact!