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Out of the life blood of Spain's Civil Wars this stupendous novel is being conceived. Here is the first part of the trilogy- in itself totalling over 1000 pages-and covering the years of inception-1931 to 1936- as the forces in conflict became cohesive factors. Gironella has chosen for his setting Gerona, a provincial town almost arrogantly Catalan, and virtually ostracizing ""foreigners"". The story revolves around the Alvears- Matias in the telegraph service, a man of Madrid; his wife a Basque; Ignacio, the eldest, torn within himself in his allegiances; Cesar, to whom the church was life; Pilar, the daughter, who while still a teen ager, loves Matco a Falangist, at the inception of the movement. Catalan independence is at the start the central issue, but there the forces are brought into conflict, and beginnings made of the larger issues of Spain. Anarchists, Socialists, Communists (depicted as much more closely linked with Russia than in most books), the Church, the Separatists, and variants of each, come sharply into focus only to blur the lines in confusion of purpose, process and goal. But in these years, when a shooting war as still ahead, there is drawn through the characters of the town, and of this family, all those segments of splinter politics that contributed to the disaster of a Civil War in which a World War was set aflame. Atmosphere, mood and tempo, the creation of individuals these come alive. But for the average reader, the story bogs down in the extent of exploration of motives, beliefs and the projection of the welter of conflicting facets of Spanish politics. One emerges, exhausted, confused, but with an unforgettable impression of a country and a people, old in tradition, but immature, almost unformed in their naivete a they assume their roles on a world stage. It will take a miracle to put this over-with public definitely allergic to politics beyond the brief span of our own campaigns.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1955
ISBN: 1586170465
Publisher: Knopf