Friday, September 05, 2008

08.22 The Fifth Column And Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War by Ernest Hemingway.

The Fifth Column And Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War (1969) by Ernest Hemingway
Pbk, Scribner, 151 p.

Having just recently read some history of the period I saw this book and thought it apropos. Hemingway was one of the more famous of the "Internationals" to come to Spain during the Civil War. He covered it as a reporter for an American newspaper syndicate and was especially sympathetic to the Republicans.

The play, The Fifth Column, was his only full length stage work. The play takes place in a hotel in Madrid, presumably modeled on the Hotel Florida where all the foreign correspondents stayed. There is not much to the play - a group of communist sympathetic young American journalists interacting among various rooms in the hotel with one eventually revealed as a secret agent for the Republicans.

Of more interest are the short stories in this book. Hemingway writes them as stories but clearly they are firmly based on his experiences in and around Madrid during the war. In The Denunciation he lovingly describes his favorite bar, Chicote, where he spent much of his time. There he sees a Nationalist pilot who he knew before the war and wonders how to denounce.

I am never much of a fan of short stories but I loved how this book gave a little more sense of what it might have been like to be in Spain, in Madrid during the war. You just cannot get those feelings from a history book.


Olman Feelyus said...

Holy troop surge! You're right on Buzby's tale!

Buzby said...

You are right, these stories were pretty entertaining. For another - non Franco - take on Spain you should check out Hemingway's monograph on bull fighting called Death in the Afternoon.