THE OLIVE FIELD by Ralph Bates


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Ralph Bates, an Englishman, was one of the organizers of the International Brigade in the Spanish Revolution. This novel, about the stirrings of anarchist activity in southern Spain between 1932 and 1934 and the outbreak of revolution in Asturias in 1934, was published in 1936. Bates' urgent commitment to the workers' cause fires the book but never rages alone at the expense of the characters' tale. The main protagonists are two friends-- Diego Mudarra, a guitarist, and Joachin Caro, a worker in the olive fields, and Lucia Robledo, who bears Mudarra's illegitimate child and whom Joachin marries. Beyond this personal triangle, Bates explores the configurations of other men during the political and social upheaval in the small peasant town of Los Olivares: a priest and his assistant; landowner Don Fadrique oblivious to the ferment; Argote, his tough, thieving ""foreman"" whose passion is the olive trees. Through, or in spite of, the actions of all these men, Bates projects the particular events which overtake the town-- a riot, an abortive attempt to blow up Fadrique's dam, the general strike in the olive fields, the mass arrests and mass killings. Bates is both a lyricist and a realist. The short chapters and the disconnected flow of incidents convey the sense of a chronology of disaster against a timeless landscape. Sometimes one feels that Bates is trying to tell too much too fast. But what does it matter. He has something to say.

Publisher: Trident-Washington Square