Wednesday, September 24, 2008

La Guerra

A story about a dispute over the grave of Gabriel Garcia Lorca, murdered in 1936, at the outset of the Spanish Civil War, once widely considered the opening act of the anti-fascist struggle, but now almost forgotten.

Andre Malraux wrote, "It was in Spain that we learned that we could be right and yet be beaten, that might did not always conquer might."

C. Day Lewis, later Poet Laureate of Britain, opened his poem The Nabara (about a Basque armed trawler sacrificing herself to save a convoy from the fascists):

Freedom is more than a word,

more than the base coinage

Of statesmen, the tyrant's dishonoured cheque, or the dreamer's


Inflated currency. She is mortal, we know, and made

In the image of simple men

who have no taste for carnage

But sooner kill and are killed than see that image betrayed.

(Apparently, John McCain told an interviewer that his favorite fictional character is Robert Jordan, hero of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Which is interesting, as it is widely believed that the inspiration for that character was an officer in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, a unit most of whose members were Communists.)

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