Homage to Catalonia is the fourth Orwell book I've read, after 1984, Animal Farm, and Burmese Days, and I've come to the conclusion that Orwell is anHomage to Catalonia is the fourth Orwell book I've read, after 1984, Animal Farm, and Burmese Days, and I've come to the conclusion that Orwell is an interesting, provocative writer, just not a particularly great one. Homage to Catalonia is a scattershot book, careening between political and historical analysis and personal episodes during the Spanish Civil War; without a doubt, the personal sections are much more compelling. For instance, the long (read: very long) chapter breaking down the various left-wing organizations banded together to fight against Franco and the fascists could easily have been chopped in half, and the chapter on the street battles back in Barcelona bogged down with political speculations far too often. At the same time, Orwell makes a convincing case that the Soviets, directing certain elements in Spain, sowed distrust among the various communists, socialists, and anarchists because they didn't want to lose control of any "workers' revolutions." Orwell also argues that this absurd disunity on the left let Franco win.
Among the more striking personal sections are Orwell's descriptions of the terrible conditions in the trenches and his amazing account of being shot through the neck by a sniper--he never portrays himself as a hero, simply as a soldier stupid enough to lift his head at the wrong time. His subsequent disillusionment with the left in general and communism in particular develops naturally out of his time recovering back in Barcelona and his hairbreadth escape across the border into France. If you would like to understand where the harsh warnings of 1984 and Animal Farm come from, this is the book to read. Oh, and let me leave you with my favorite quote from the book: "in Barcelona there were hardly any bullfights nowadays; for some reason all the best matadors were Fascists."...more