Author Archives: jae seung park

Los Girasoles Ciegos

“Los Girasoles Ciegos” es una novela de Alberto Méndez que muestra el lado oscuro de la Guerra Civil. Las luchas de la vida cotidiana de los españoles están presentes en las otras novelas que hemos leído, pero esas luchas se convierten como un foco con Méndez. El miedo, la violencia, el hambre, y el sufrimiento son los temas principales de la novela. El romanticismo heroico que hemos visto desde los personajes extranjeros no está presente, y Méndez no trata de justificar o apaciguar a nada. La novela tiene un enfoque muy realista, y recuerda a todos que no todo es positivo y optimista.

Una de las citas que me llamó la atención fue en la página 13 (en mi versión online):

“Tengo miedo de que el niño enferme, tengo miedo de que muera la vaca a la que apenas logro alimentar desenterrando raíces y la poca hierba que la nieve sorprendió aún viva. Tengo miedo de enfermar. Tengo miedo de que alguien descubra que estamos aquí arriba en la montaña. Tengo miedo de tanto miedo.” 

Esta cita nos recuerda que la guerra trae el miedo en todos los aspectos de la vida, y la guerra consume la mentalidad de todo el mundo por completo. Eulalio pierde su novia y tiene que cuidar de su hijo solo. Él no tiene mucho tiempo para sentir la tristeza, porque el miedo sustituye a la tristeza y él tiene que estar alerta y continuar su vida por su hijo joven.

Es también la primera vez que tenemos una historia desde el lado nacionalista de la guerra, lo cual me pareció muy interesante. La primera historia, llamada “Si el corazón pensara dejaría de latir,” habla sobre Capitan Alegría, un capitán que luchó en el lado nacionalista. Él se entregó por el lado republicano, pero logra escapar. En la primera página, él dice “soy un rendido.” Él no siente como un vencedor. Sólo luchaba por su país, y nunca ha tenido ningún motivo para la violencia, el hambre, y la división que la guerra causó. Para él, no sirve para nada estar en el lado ganador. Él es tan deprimido, cansado, y con miedo como cualquier persona en el otro lado de esta guerra.

No sé por qué. Tal vez es porque soy una persona deprimente. Me gustó bastante el ambiente deprimente la trama llevado a lo largo de la historia. Fue un soplo de aire fresco en las otras novelas que hemos leído. ¿Qué opinan ustedes?

For Whom The Bell Tolls

For Whom The Bell Tolls is a war novel by Ernest Hemingway, based on his personal experience of the Spanish Civil War which he participated in as a reporter. I was taken aback by the language used and the counterfeit love story throughout the novel.

Fundamentally, the novel is written like a translation as discussed previously in class. The obscure phrases that Hemingway uses as an attempt to make the novel seem like a translation did not work for me. For example, during a conversation between the gypsy and Robert Jordan the gypsy asks why Pablo wasn’t killed, to which Robert responds, “I thought it might molest you others or the woman” (34). The word molest (molestar) in the Spanish language translates in English as “to bother” as opposed to the English word which generally is understood as sexual abuse. Despite the attempts to bring the “Spanishness” to the novel, I believe it disrupts the flow of the plot and can seem pretentious for the native English speakers who may not have a full grasp of the Spanish language. Also, during the scene where Maria and Robert Jordan is copulating, there is extreme repetition of the word “nowhere” which I did not enjoy.

“For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all time always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them” (88).

The novel also attempts to present itself as a romance novel, which I argue it has failed also. Given the circumstances that it was a civil war, there is a dramatic element that paints any form of romance be it an affair or not as a beautiful love story. However, the sudden escalation of the romance between Maria and Robert Jordan and the scene in which they fornicate does not appear to be very logical. I’m no feminist, but the classic scene of a military man and a poor woman is a theme too familiar in literature and looked as if Hemingway was objectifying the woman, projecting his insecurities he faced in his life. The dramatic farewell between Maria and Robert Jordan was also seemed far-fetched.

All in all, I was not too impressed with the novel as it failed to reach its objectives. I also don’t believe it gives a fair assessment of the Spanish Civil War other than the desperate environment Spain was in. It was presented merely as a backdrop to the love story.

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.

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.


Hola todos!

Me llamo James Park, soy originalmente de Corea, pero he vivido en Vancouver por 11 años. Estoy en mi cuarto año en UBC estudiando español y ciencia política. Me fascina mucho las lenguas y las culturas diferentes. El mundo hispano es un gran puente cultural y lingüístico a otras culturas y lenguas y por eso elegí español. ¡Espero tener un gran semester con todos ustedes!