Homage To Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell is a personal account of the Spanish Civil War. As a British expatriate, he joined the POUM (Worker’s Party of Marxist Unification) and fought on the Republican side. He grew to love the Socialist society the Republicans have built and it provided him the motivation to fight:

“In outward appearance it was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. Except for a small number of women and foreigners there were no ‘well-dressed’ people at all. Practically everyone wore rough working class clothes, or blue overalls, or some variant of the militia uniform. All this was queer and moving. There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for” (10).

However, he is soon disappointed by the state of the military. “To my dismay I found that we were taught nothing about the use of weapons. The so-called instruction was simply parade-ground drill of the most antiquated, stupid kind: right turn, left turn, about turn, marching at attention in column of threes and all the rest of that useless nonsense which I had learned when I was fifteen years old” (16-17). He was very disappointed at how disorganized the army was and the fact that no practical instruction was being done. He also finds that the soldiers were starving for months and exhausted.

He also talks extensively about the political differences within the Republican side. He states:

“As for the kaleidoscope of political parties and trade unions, with their tiresome names–P.S.U.C., P.O.U.M., F.A.I., C.N.T., U.G.T., J.C.I., J.S.U., A.I.T.–they merely exasperated me. It looked at first sight as though Spain were suffering from a plague of initials. I knew that I was serving in something called the P.O.U.M. (I had only joined the P.O.U.M. militia rather than any other because I happened to arrive in Barcelona with I.L.P. papers), but I did not realize that there were serious differences between the political parties” (75).

It seems like he was caught up in the revolutionary spirit that was present in Barcelona, and not necessarily for the cause. It seems like it was rather an emotional response as opposed to a response through constructive examination of his ethics.

The question is, why is the title of the book Homage To Catalonia when it seems like there is an absence of any respect or reverence rendered to Spain or Catalonia? I have yet to read the full text but I do not see any homage being paid to the respective country/ies so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *