Synopses & Reviews
An open-minded and clear-eyed reexamination of the cultural artifacts of Francos Spain
History is written by the victors: Its a cliché, but a reliable one—except in the case of the Spanish Civil War. Here, it is the losers version of events that has been believed. In his groundbreaking book Francos Crypt: Spanish Culture and Memory Since 1936, Jeremy Treglown argues that the result has been a double distortion.
Inside Spain as well as outside, many believe—wrongly—that under Francisco Francos 1939-75 dictatorship, nothing truthful or imaginatively worthwhile could be said or written or shown. And this myth reinforces another: that there was and continues to be a national pact to forget what really happened. As a result, foreign narratives—For Whom the Bell Tolls, Casablanca, Homage to Catalonia—still have greater credibility than Spanish ones. Yet La Guerra de España was, as its name asserts, Spains own war, and in recent years the country has begun to “reclaim” this crucial aspect of its modern history.
Francos Crypt reveals that despite state censorship, events of the time were vividly recorded. Treglown looks at whats actually there—monuments, paintings, public works, novels, movies, computer games—and considers, in a captivating narrative, the totality of what it shows. The result is a much-needed reexamination of a history we only thought we knew.
"Spain under Nationalist dictator Francisco Franco was not a mute, traumatized wasteland, but a country with a complex, imaginative culture that deserves to be remembered, according to this probing study. Treglown (Roald Dahl: A Biography) surveys an eclectic range of cultural artifacts from the Spanish Civil War, the Franco period, and Spain's modern democratic era everything from monuments and hydro-electric dams, to video games and the latter-day movement to unearth the mass graves of Republican opponents shot by Nationalist forces. He unflinchingly registers the crimes of the Franco government, but argues that sophisticated, even subversive voices were tolerated and at times nurtured by the regime: novels with ambivalent attitudes toward the war and the sides that fought it, challenging art, films that satirized Franco-ite mores. Treglown presents subtle and perceptive critical readings of unjustly neglected works, showing how far they depart from the caricature of bland conservatism that some apply to the culture of the Franco era. But he also advances a deeper argument about modes of historical awareness, contrasting the confrontational and sometimes simplistic commemorative politics of democratic Spain with the oblique, symbolic but still rich expressiveness of the more repressed Franco period. Treglown's elegant and thoughtful meditation shows us that authoritarian power is neither monolithic nor immune to the soft power of civil society and individual creativity. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jeremy Treglown is a British writer and critic who spends part of every year in Spain and has written about the country for Granta and other magazines. His previous books include biographies of Roald Dahl, Henry Green (which won the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award), and V. S. Pritchett (which was short-listed for the Whitbread Biography Award and the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize). Formerly the editor of The Times Literary Supplement and a fellow of the New York Public Librarys Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, he has taught at Oxford, University College London, Princeton, and the University of Warwick, and has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.