Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell’s account of his experiences fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and a portrait of disillusionment with his early politics. Orwell’s experiences include being shot in the neck by a sniper, and being forced into hiding as factions of the Left battled on the streets of Barcelona. Orwell entered Spain intending to gather an experience worth writing about, as well as to fight Fascism, and wrote Homage to Catalonia within months of his return. His honesty and bitterness make for an unparalleled account of his journey from belief and enthusiasm to a reluctant loss of ideals.
This audio edition includes two appendices, essays Orwell added to the book giving some background to the Spanish Civil War, and his biting analysis of the press response.
©2011 CSA Word (P)2011 CSA Word
Having subscribed to Audible in a passing fit of madness, I discovered suddenly that the credits I had been accruing only added up to 6 - Audible permits no more. So frantically I began searching for something I could bear to listen to. Most of the Audible narrative performance are simply awful -- to me, I'm sure others enjoy the overly-dramatic renderings. If you agree with me, read on.
Finally, I found this book. I've read HtC probably half a dozen times, but not for the past six years or so. The narrator, Mr Northam, is British, and has a voice at once educated but with just a bit of the Counties in it somewhere, and he underplays his reading, which fits nicely with Orwell's "let me tell you exactly what it is like to be shot in the neck by a rifle" narrative.
More than that, though, is the character of the book itself. It is itself a first-person, factual narrative, and so lends itself well to this form. It helps if you're a bit left politically, too. cheers.
"When men believed that war was peace"
In its time a very controversial book for the European left, especially the Russian controlled communist parties and the beginning of the disillusionment of a great writer with the ideas and consequences of totalitarian power (Stalinist) and the party that controlled that centralisation.
Here we see the genesis of 1984, and his final unmasking of the crimes committed in the name of a new faith, a new religion as ferocious and intransigent as the worst religions.
The language is clear and direct and feels contemporary. So much so I could not stop thinking of the Syrian similarities, the young men thinking they will change everything with a single vision of what is correct, the naivete that wars can be just or controlled, that ideals will defeat established powers, that there is honour in the business of killing, the fragmentation of the belief into competing militias, the use of children to fight demagogues wars .
Orwell is blinded with his vision of a better world but is an exceptional reporter and describes his experience in Spain's civil war ( 1936 to 1939) with stark uncensored realism that captures more than just the image he wants to present but a reality that can be studied from different angles, not just the one given by the writer. He also warns that his reporting might be tainted by his ideals or beliefs a first in my experience with writers.
The use of acronyms is baffling because they are given as if everyone knew their meaning but Orwell explains in his appendices the meaning and the animosities of all these factions of the left.
This is a very personal book, of one man’s limited experience (from December 1936 until June 1937) in what was a long bloody war. It explains his reasons and his view of why the war started in a very of the period and party line explanation. For a broader historical point of view I would look else where.
If you like Orwell this is a must read.
The narration was excellent it made Me think I was listening to the writer.
This is my third Orwell book after Animal Farm and 1984. It was good to dip a toe into his essayistic writing, this was certainly as compelling as a novel and you would be forgiven for thinking it was.
It is well narrated and you certainly won't want it to come to an end. The mixture of historical lesson and insight to the human condition is an engaging blend. You can recognise the politics of the author of the above mentioned novels (unwritten at this time) and the integrity and courage of the man shines like a beacon through the book.
Good for anyone either interested in Orwell as a writer outside of fiction or for an insight into a period of history that was massively influential to the freedom we enjoy in Europe today.
A very well read and well written book. The narrator sounds exactly like I would expect George Orwell to sound. This is a great version of a powerful book
"NOT UNABRIDGED !"
My habit of listening to books as well as reading them, led me to discover Almost all of chapter 5 (95%) is missed, and skips to chapter 6. THIS BOOK IS NOT UNABRIDGED, IT IS AN ABRIDGED VERSION.
Mr Eric Blair.
A capable, not over-whelming performance.
NONE. I DO NOT READ OR KNOWINGLY LISTEN TO ABRIDGED/EDITED STORIES OR ARTICLES.
JUST A SHAME ABOUT THE MASSIVE CHUNK LEFT OUT.
"The Invention of the Spin Doctor"
What a good read this book was. As a participant of the Spanish civil war, Orwell can give detailed accounts on the front line. This he does with modesty and obvious honesty. I find that George Orwell writes in such an honest fashion, that it is natural to believe him. His style is simple and clear. The pictures he paints of the political sacrifice of the workers who returning from war are depried of wages, dragged from hospital beds, imprisoned are shocking to the right minded. The poorly researched reporting of the UK press highlights how the press gave a false picture to the rest of the world. Perhaps lessons could have been learned to help curb Hitler early on. The press were manipulated and should be ashamed of themselves. Effectively putting the oppressed beyond extneral help. When first published, I can imagine this book made many squirm with shame.
"An important book beautifully read"
Very finely narrated classic account of the civil war in Spain in the 1930s. Unsentimental and surprising in some respects. Orwell like many others went from a somewhat privileged background in England to fight for the forces of the left arrayed against the fascist forces of Franco. He went somewhat naive but one gets the impression his outlook soon matured and he became increasingly sceptical about the nature of the conflict in which he had become embroiled. It would seem that it was this experience in Spain which first gave him insight into the "imperfections" of far left wing politics and ideology and its totalitarian tendencies, and it must have been at this time that the seeds of Animal Farm and 1984 were sown. The book deserves its status as a classic and the narration is one of the finest I have encountered. Recommended.
"The voice of Orwell"
I would listen to this book again for many reasons but principally this one: Orwell, wisely in my view, separated out the autobiographical from the theoretical, and they appear in that order. Knowing more about the background now, thanks to two substantial appendices, I feel it would give new life to Orwell's description of his experiences. But to have explained everything first would have been a fatal move.
The description of Orwell's wounding was very memorable as was his description of the 'change of mood' in Barcelona.
I've also listened to Northam's reading of Down and Out in Paris and London. He is fast becoming the voice of Orwell for me. Next stop, Burma Days.
The fact that Orwell's love for the Spanish people was not affected by what occurred was striking.
The explanation of the left's problems is very good and some of it surprised me.
"A Classic of English Literature"
Amazing Literary Work.
George Orwell is without doubt one of the finest writers if not the finest, of twentieth century Literature. The way Orwell conveys his story and the brutality yet compassion of the Spanish Civil war is a gift blessed only to a handful of authors. His individual stories so beautifully and eloquently portrayed takes the readers mind ducking and diving from the bullets of backstreet Barcelona in the summer of 1936.
This masterpiece is so brilliantly read with ease and the voice sweeps along like a Spanish matador on heat.
It was all a total joy from start to finish.
Homeage to Catalonia: The passion of the matador wrapped around Franco and Spain.
Simply breathtaking. A must read.
"Worth listening to"
It took me some time to get into this book as I did not know anything about the Spanish civil war and found some of the events confusing. I had to consult Wikipedia and other sources to get a sense of what was going on. The two appendices in the book (chapters 13 and 14) are very helpful as they provide a further insight into the political situation. I found the book fascinating and there are parallels with contemporary partisan politics associated with the civil unrest in the Middle East and Libya. I will need to listen to this book again to fully appreciate it. Finally, the narration was brilliant.
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