©1980 The Estate of the Late Sonia Brownell Orwell; (P)1992 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"[A] triumph.... The audio presentation adds a new dimension to a text which is required reading for any student of the Spanish Civil War." (AudioFile)
It goes without saying that an Orwell book comes recommended, and HOMAGE TO CATALONIA is indeed a fascinating account of the politics and lived experience of the Spanish Civil War. But the narration, while not the worst I have heard on audible, detracts from the overall experience. He fails to convey the irony and bemusement of the text, and as others have remarked, the accent doesn't sound right.
Have not read the print version.
Who turned the review feature into a marketing ploy? These questions are idiotic.
All you people care about is selling entertainment, right? That said, Davidson was great. He narrated several books that deal with History and Communism. My introduction to him was via The Gulag Archipelago, which I recommend to every American living through these times. I have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated his craft.
No, I'm not a stooge who reads or listens to audio books for entertainment. You people clearly think that all is fiction. How Postmodern!
Orwell went to Spain to fight for Socialism. He found out that Socialists become Fascists when the get into power. This book is a good introduction into what motivated him to write 1984.
The narrative follows Orwell's experiences as a militiaman fighting for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, but the fascinating aspect of the book is Orwell's growing awareness of, and dissatisfaction with, the political environment. One sees, or hears, Orwell go through several stages: his realization of the political infighting on the Loyalist side; his recognition that Soviet geopolitical aims did not accord with those of the Spanish working class; his amazement that the infighting would be allowed to compromise the war against Franco; and his disbelief and finally disgust at the tactics of those following the Soviet line against their supposed allies.
Orwell was both a witness to and a near-victim of the progression of attacks of a totalitarian movement similar to those that were comprehensively described elsewhere by Hannah Arendt. Orwell recognized that the attacks of the Communists against their more radical counterparts needed no basis in fact, yet he hadn't quite accepted that truth, as he went out of his way to disprove the charges. By the time of "Animal Farm" and "1984", he would have internalized this lesson and depicted it in all its basic cruelty. A fascinating question is whether those later books would have been possible without Orwell's experiences in Spain.
Orwell described the horrors and misery of war, but one definitely gets the sense that he would have thought them all worthwhile if his idealistic faith in working class solidarity had not been shattered.
I've always had a profound respect for Orwell and both 1984 and Animal Farm greatly influenced me when I read them for the first time in my teens. I had always intended to read Homage to Catalonia but I'm in my 40's and just now got around to this great work. If you want to understand Orwell you must read/listen to this book. As much as I respect Orwell, I've always profoundly disagreed with his anarchist/socialist political beliefs. This work has greatly helped me to understand his political beliefs and to reconcile 1984 & Animal Farm with these beliefs.
Regarding the narrator, this is the second book I've listened to narrated by Frederick Davidson (Quo Vadis was the other) and I find him very hard to take. His snobbish--bordering at times on effeminate--British accident is a real turn off to my ear. I find it very hard to believe Orwell spoke anything like this and the irony of the anarchist/socialist anti-bourgeois Orwell having his first hand account of his experience in the Spanish Civil War being narrated by such a voice is pretty hard to take. On the positive side, even though the British accent is pretty strong, the narrator is very understandable to an American ear so I quickly found myself ignoring the accent as I became engrossed in the work.
Frederick Davidson's voice is perfect for this book. I think the accent is something close to Oxford English, but as an American could easily understand everything he said.
And Orwell's memoir, of course, is brilliant.
Honest memoir of Orwell's time in Spain during a crucial time in the civil war.
The performance is decent though the Spanish pronunciation could be much improved. Additionally, I'm not sure if Orwell would have spoken with such refined airs. Nevertheless, I enjoyed listening to this piece and it was a reminder of an earlier read I had of the work years ago.
Orwell's narrative gives a strong narrative to which he can attach the political intrigue and strategic differences, clearly presenting the stakes of the differences over strategy within the Left at the time. Orwell's narrative brings a degree of concreteness to what are sometimes abstract discussions over principle, and this really helps to understand why different parties and groupings took the positions they did, and what the consequences were.
Probably his descriptions of the Barcelona fighting, and his fierce denunciations of the lies in the press.
The narrator sounds quite snobby and repulsive to the American ear at first, but I quickly got used to it and was pulled into the story rather quickly. I think the narrator is fine, there is certainly nothing to complain about in his actual reading of the text.
The reader was clear and very well suited for his role.
The work itself was just an interesting, very personal look at the lead up to WWII and of Stalinist purges outside the Soviet Union.
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