WRITERS IN ARMS by Frederick R. Benson

WRITERS IN ARMS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The pride and passion of those who ""died in Madrid"" during the Spanish Civil War flames in the writings of those who lived to tell the tale. The author of this interesting study has combed through the writings of both partisans and critics of the Loyalists, noting the way in which the civil strife, the true causes of which Benson sees as internal, was turned into an international cause celebre, particularly as a symbol for the liberal intellectual, who exaggerated the military importance of the event. Foreshadowing as it did, for the liberal, the global struggle against fascism, the events in Spain imprinted themselves so deeply on some writers that, says Benson, ""nothing has happened to them since."" Six writers are treated in depth as representative of the liberal intellectual experience; Malraux, Regler, Hemingway, Orwell, Koestler, and Bernanos are selected not only for their qualities of political engagement, but also for the existential way in which the conflict invaded their personal lives. To read the writers themselves would give a better impression of ""how it was,"" but this combination of literary criticism and historical scholarship is respectable, nicely written and nicely researched. Chapters on political commitment and the writer and on ""The Pornography of Violence"" deserve an honorable mention.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1967
Publisher: New York University Press