1931 saw the fall of the Spanish monarchywho was then replaced by a democratically elected government dedicated to therestructuring of the social stratification of Spain. This newly electedgovernment became known as La Segunda Republica Espanola, the Second SpanishRepublic.

The newly formed government was largely comprised of people of lowand middle socio-economic status and promoted policies which aimed to end thetraditionalist Spanish culture. Their amendments included the restructuring andredistribution of land, the separation of church and state, and a pacifist,antiviolence policy dedicated to undermining the power of the nobility, theCatholic Church, and the armed forces (“”). This, of course, led to thearistocracy’s, the Catholic Church’s, the military and the monarchists’,resentment of what they saw as an attack on their authority. This resentmenttowards the newly form government united and led them to rebel against thegovernment reforms. Meanwhile, the government’s naïve reforms disastrously failedto satisfy the left radicals or gain the support of laborers. The SecondRepublic struggled to stay in power by forming a series of weak coalitiongovernments (“Spanish Civil War”).

In 1936 following the democratic victoryof the Popular Front, a combination of communists, liberals, and socialistsemphasized both the hope for social reforms for those who the Second Republicfailed to care about and the fears the new reforms posed to the right. TheNationalists, the rightist opponents of the Second Republic government, soonrevolted against the Republicans, the antimonarchist supporters of the SecondRepublic. George Orwell first arrived in Barcelona,Spain near the end of 1936, which was only month after the Spanish Civil Warhad started. After having arrived in the main are of the revolutionary Spain inone of the regions of Spain called Catalonia, Orwell began to record what he experiencesin what he would later title Homage to Catalonia.

Homage to Catalonia providesa first-hand account of what was more than a war, but a revolution. There is no denying that Homage toCatalonia belongs in any important book list about the Spanish Civil War, butjust like any important literary works, it has is positives and negatives. Homageto Catalonia has served as a key source in the English speaking worlds’formation of their opinion about the war. However, just like any literary work,Homage to Catalonia has its flaws. The first is the limitation of Orwell’s knowledgeabout Spain. Homage to Catalonia is limited to the times and place of whichOrwell was a part of. The problem with this is that how much Orwell really knewabout the broader politics of the war is rather questionable.

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Orwell clearlydid not have much knowledge about the origins of the civil war or the socialcrisis behind the clashes (Preston). This is evident by the fact that nowherein the book are we able to find him mentioning having any prior knowledge aboutSpain. Orwell himself acknowledges his flaws and his bias in Homage toCatalonia when he says “my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and thedistortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events”.Something that Orwell does get right, inmy opinion, is when he infers that the defense against the military ofFrancisco Franco and his attempted coup was not really a defense of democracybut rather a revolution. Everyone outside of Spain assumed that the people ofSpain were simply defending their Republic against Franco, however, to thepeople in Spain the fact that this was a socialist and anarchist movement wasmore than clear. The problem with this idea is that even thoughit makes sense, it is evidence of Orwell’s bias and compromising the validityof his book. The Republican group had components that were keen of revolution,and they made up many of the Republican’s ranks. Anarchists were certainlyeager to have a revolution, as were communists (like Orwell, who joined thePOUM), however, they did not make up the majority of the Republican’s.

Revolution was not really a purpose in the Basque territories of Spain, andmany Catalan Republicans were not really revolutionaries. From Orwell’s perspective,his statement makes perfect sense, but this again shows how his recollectionand view of the war is limited to the times and places of which he was a partof and not the war as a whole. There is also the fact that the Republicans weremade up of many different groups and their priorities and cause often differed.Some highlighted victory and had no problem with waiting for theirrevolutionary reforms to be implemented. Others, on the other hand, believedthat revolution was tremendously important, and further assumed that revolutionwas only the way to triumph. While Orwell does put aside the broaderpicture of the many reasons and factions behind the Spanish Civil War, such asthe background involvements of Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini, in order tosimply emphasize the political and social differences between the differentparties involved in the civil war, he does provide a good description ofCatalonia and almost succeeds at persuading people to believe that even theCatalonian people wanted to be free from Spain. Orwellas an academic with a utopia in mind of people fighting for freedom andequality who felt that  independence andfreedom were important, and there was hope for a better society in the air.

“There was much in it that I did not understand,” he acknowledged; “in someways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state ofaffairs worth fighting for.”The aftermath of the Spanish Civil War transformedthe balance of power in Europe and tried the military power of Germany andItaly. It is true that the Spanish Revolution should never be forgotten andOrwell’s account of the revolution in Homage to Catalonia, even with all isbiased opinions, serves as a great retelling of what happened and the reasonsbehind the people’s support of the revolution.