Sobre Homage to Catalonia

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I would have to say that this was easily the most entertaining piece we’ve read so far, which is both interesting and surprising for a number of reasons, most notably because the subject matter of the book is dire and tumultuous (as Paz touched on in her blog post). I for one was pleasantly surprised because my experience reading two of his other books (Animal Farm and 1984) wasn’t exactly what I would call “entertaining.” I also, like Paz, found it curious that there was even humor to be found in some of the situations Orwell described, or the series of observations he had. And as I commented on her blog post, I’ll pose it to the rest of you whether you think those humorous insertions were wholly genuine or used primarily for the purpose of entertainment for the reader. This question also brings to mind previous conversations we’ve had in and outside of class, about the author’s intention versus the outcome of a certain authorial choice. Does it matter whether or not Orwell intended to entertain us with these few anecdotes or observations? Regardless, I was entertained, and I do feel that it kept me engaged throughout the narrative (I confess I ended up reading it in one sitting!).

Another matter I’m still not decided on is the issue of whether Homage to Catalonia was a “fair” or “unbiased” narration of the events of the Spanish Civil War that Orwell participated in (I’m referring both to Mauricio’s thoughtful and well-written post, as well as our discussion in class yesterday). On the one hand, I recognize that Orwell does comment several times on the fact that he’s trying to contribute to the narrative by presenting what he believes is more or less an “unbiased” account of the events as he witnessed them. He also goes as far as saying that he believes that 90% of what has been said about the uprising in Barcelona is untrue (thereby suggesting that his contribution is perhaps less biased and more “accurate.” But what I can’t shake is that he does say explicitly that (in my own words) you can’t always trust what you read and that he only offers one perspective on the events that befell Barcelona and greater Catalonia in this time. To me, that disclaimer doesn’t necessarily invalidate the other points in the book where he seems to suggest that his account is more accurate than others, or that his account is more trustworthy than what others have said (especially those who didn’t actually experience the events of the war firsthand), but in my opinion this remark leaves the text’s ultimate stance on its own accuracy or authenticity ambiguous (Orwell’s stance, on the other hand, I don’t think one reading of the book entitles me to venture a guess).