Malraux — Days of Hope (L’Espoir)

Malraux’s Days of Hope is an account of the Spanish Civil War told from the perspective of the Republicans. It is a unique novel in that he does not demonstrate the perspective of the Fascists. Malraux completely rejects the Fascist perspective on the war, and explores the Republican psyche extensively. He demonstrates two sides of the Republican movement. First, the unitive nature of the Republican faction, provoked through their unanimous distaste for the Franco leadership and support for the Second Spanish Republic; and the second, the divisive nature of the Republican faction through political disputations between the Communists, the Anarchists, and the like which in turn contributes to the defeat of the Republican faction.

The first part of the novel maps the battleground and gives a brief overview of numerous characters. It also takes the readers to the battleground during the beginnings of the civil war using specific phrases in Spanish used during the war: “Salud,” “Arriba España,” “Viva El Cristo Rey,” and “Compañeros.” It’s a constant dialogue through the telephone operators, between Republicans and at times brief moments of communication between the Nationalists and the Republicans trying to locate which areas they control. I was overwhelmed by the amount of action that was occurring in the story and could not quite get into the story. However, as the story progressed Malraux demonstrates that the war wasn’t just a battle between the Republicans and the Nationalists but also the socio-philosophical ideas that were unveiled by the characters and their version of the revolution. The conversations between the Anarchists and the Communists and their own ideas of what they should get out of the war gave me a better understanding of why the Civil War was a complete failure for the Republicans.


“The communists, you see, want to get things done. Whereas you and the anarchists, for different reasons, want to be something. That’s the tragedy of a revolution like this one. Our respective ideals are so different; pacifism and the need to fight in self-defense; organization and Christian sentiment; efficiency and justice—nothing but contradictions. We’ve got to straighten them out, transform our Apocalyptic vision into an army—or be exterminated.” (210-211)


There was no desire between the Anarchists and the Communists to form a unitive structure. It was interesting for me that Hernandez claims the Anarchists have a “Christian sentiment” which almost sounds like he is suggesting the Anarchists are no different from the Nationalists, who had the backing of the Church. It almost sounded like Malraux was sympathizing with the Communists and suggesting that the Anarchists were ruining the revolution. In general it was interesting for me to see how organization, the very thing that unified the Left, ultimately failed the Left.

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