A Book on Spain Distorted by the Reviewers
,451 Interlude iii Spain. By Charles (Macmillan, Bs. 6d.) Reviewed by MICHAEL DF: LA BEDOYERE BLESS the soldier who wrote to
me the other day to say that he was' so revolted by the aecouta tit prance) s vain to tins pooh chat" he asked me to read it and write about it, lie wasn't the first remitr to make the same request and 1, for my • pare had noticed a number of reviews ol the book in the Pink Poses in which it was suggested that now at last Iranco was snown up--and shown up by a Right Catholic, a sympathiser with the Nationalists a nobleman, what not. 1 had long meant to get the book which apparently was not sent to Catholic papers for review ; but my latest soldier correspondent forced me to take akin I repeat that I bless him, for he has made me read one of the (Mesa human documents written during the war, and one impregnated on every page by the best tradition of Catholicity He has also enabled me to do my bit to refute the account .of this hook put over by a press' hostile to the Church and hostile to Spain. I, for one. was completely 'aken in. It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that this book should he added to the anti-Franca books as a last confirma tory It is indeed critical, and Sr times severely critics ol Franco's egime. bus in s corneas that is quite opposite 'o the context of the usual Left propaganda DDONAL1.1".. a Belgian gentleman land this as d point to he noted: it is manifested in every page), was eying to make his was from Occupied Belgium, via France and Spain. to England Something went wrong, and he found himself fo• some months in the famouCarcei Modell in Barcelona and Co. some turthei months in the famous Miranda concentration camp. The book tells. of his extraordinary experiences in close prison contact with every kind of human being Everything and everyone is judged against a standard of an urbane and almost old-worlei, Christian culture. Love—the worn is really charity — Cot his fellow-man: that ability to mix with any human being, created in God's image. whirl marks a person whose inheritance and upbringing place him above class-consciousness: a discerning journalist's eye— these are the qualities which enable him to see infinitely deeper than any cheap partisan reporter such as he has been made out to he in the reviews I have sects.
The intimate picture of Spain and Spaniards which emerges can best be summed up by saying that Spain is a mystery, incomprehensible to the nonSpaniard, a law unto itself which makes sheer nonsense ii interpreted by the Northern humanitarian enlightened secularist. It is to us in many respects a barbarous country, but in its cruelties its absurdities, its utter bureaucratic incompetence, its complete disregard for the opinion of others, its extraordinary and never-failing chivalry there is a grip somewhere on an ele mem of reality which has been lost sight of by our godless civilised efficiency. D'Ytiewatie is rightly horror-struck by the prostitution of .religion iii the Carcel Modelo,'but that prostitution is equally a L'prostitution of the very nationalism which in spine front is Spain, The Spaniard just docen't seem to see that you can't convert a man, whether to Christianity or the Franco regime by forcing him to partake in rit41 and ceremonial actions which in any case are accepted its part of the colour and drama of life. And if in this strange prison where old-world courtesy, graft, squalor. jesde with the machine-guns of the firing souads, spouting !heir lead here and there ac cording to the hazards of incompetent ollicialdom. there is much .to repel the foreign prisoner. (who is kindly given a grandstand seat, to watch it all and report on it later) the honest one. like r he ;author, has to admit that the Communists and the Anarchists share in Ili it own way he incredible sentiments of the Falangists They ate simply awaitine thei: turn, and there is no sense of injury anywhere. " What if Franco should ever prove tolerant and reosantsble I None dared conceive of such a horror. No more than that was needeu to spread black despair... . It IV.aS essential that the prison-ernes should open to the sound of rifle-fire, otherwise revo1uti0F1 wasn't worth the trouble"
-WEIS" page of this hook brings out the abSUrditf OT imagining that this Spain could be converted to a Pink gentility by the gentlemen responsible for the newspapers which hailed this hook as the linal aecouating of Franco. And crYilewallt: himself in his final paragraphs shows himself perhaps a rather sentimental idealist, hat his idealism is certainly not likely to appeal to the Editors of the New Statesman and the Tribune. Here is what he says: " There I met with, turn by turn, deeds of the purest heroism sire. most lonchmg charity, and outbreaks of the rimer appalling savagery. All of ivitich served to confirm rote in my view that for the misfortunes of modern Spain there is but one remedy: the midi:tonal monarchy. . . My one hope, at Ow conclusion of this book, is that this my testimony may have brought a gleam of truth biro the great drama. so that l 57511S' venture to imitate the little Royalist 'order at Barcelona, and repeat to the distracted race of men the ancient Gospel precept: ' Love one another ' " Somehow, I did not see these words quoted in any of the reviews ! D'Ydewale's " gleans of truth " was utterly distorted by those whose business it is to review a boots. and not to use a few passages here and there, wrenched out 'of their context. as a handle for cheap propaganda.