MY PRISON by Isabel Alvarez de Toledo y Maura


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The author is a Spanish duchess by birth and a rebel by inclination; she was sentenced to a year in a Spanish prison for helping to organize protests by the people of Palomares, who demanded compensation for the radioactive damage caused by undetonated American hydrogen bombs accidentally lost in their region in 1966. The book describes the horrors of prison, but one is never allowed to forget that it as a noblewoman who narrates this sojourn into the lower depths. Most of her fellow prisoners are prostitutes, abortion convicts, and the like; as for the political prisoners, she suspects that they tried to use her to further their aims. The filth, atrocious medical care, and the authorities' stupidity are described, but the sense of mental agony, the solidarity with those who have spent years there -- all that evokes a response in the better prison memoirs -- is missing. The book has the quality of salon anecdotage -- honest, to be sure, but lacking in feeling and perception. Not notes from the underground, but the underground as noted from above.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row