Fall 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 4 Nonfiction |

The Mysterious (Un) meeting of George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway

I Seventy years ago, as the Spanish Civil War still raged, an English writer who had fought for seven months with a minor independent left-wing, quasi-anarchist militia, published a memoir of his experience that was ignored and sold a grand total of fewer than nine hundred copies during his lifetime. The author was George Orwell and the memoir was the now-famous Homage to Catalonia (1938), today regarded both in the English-speaking world and in Spain itself as the best work of reportage to emerge from that bitter conflict. Orwell was, of course, neither the only literary man to go to Spain to fight the fascists, nor the only one to write about it after returning home. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) claimed more than one million lives in a nation of twenty-five million people, and it inspired an impressive body of literature. Probably the best-known novel, and the only work of fiction to rise to classic status, is Ernest Hemingway's last great novel, For Whom the Bell Toll

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John Rodden’s most recent books are Textbook Reds: Schoolbooks, Ideology, and Eastern German Identity (2013) and The Unexamined Orwell (2012).

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