Experience Put to Use
Edited By Celia M. Wallhead
Further to the first book, Writers of the Spanish Civil War: The Testimony of Their Auto/Biographies (2011), which featured the writings on the war (1936–39) of six key British and American authors: Gerald Brenan, Robert Graves, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Stephen Spender and Laurie Lee, this new work studies the actions in the war of those physically involved and writings focused on the war, either at the time or later, by eight more foreign authors: Virginia Woolf, John Dos Passos, Franz Borkenau, V. S. Pritchett, André Malraux, Arthur Koestler, Martha Gellhorn and Peter Kemp. In addition to comparing their autobiographies with what their biographers said, in order to show up any discrepancies, as had been done in the first book, here, the texts are scrutinized to detect use of stereotypes or adaptation of the material to other purposes in the writing. New perspectives are introduced now in that two of the authors are women, one writing from a distance but deeply affected by the war (Virginia Woolf) and one active in journalism on the spot (Martha Gellhorn), and our final author, Peter Kemp, went to Spain to fight on the side of the Nationalists under Franco as opposed to the Republicans.
Chapter 4. V. S. Pritchett (1900–1997) The Spanish Civil War at a Distance (Celia Wallhead)
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Chapter 4. V. S. Pritchett (1900–1997)The Spanish Civil War at a Distance
Autobiographies and biographies
Pritchett wrote the first part of his life story in 1968, A Cab at the Door. Remembering that he was born with the century, that means he was by then not far short of seven decades old. The second part, Midnight Oil, came out three years later, in 1971. One might consider a person’s late sixties as quite advanced in years to be writing one’s life story, but we must remember that much of his early work had been an account of his adventures: Marching Spain in his late twenties, for example. Also, for as long as he worked as a reporter for journals and magazines like the Christian Science Monitor, whatever he wrote was based on what he witnessed, in this case, first-hand experience in the 1920s in Spain. Later, during the Civil War, having left Spain to get divorced and re-married, he wrote for several periodicals, articles like ‘The Passing of Spanish Liberalism’ (1936) or ‘Ebb and Flow in Spain’ (1937), both for the Spectator. Here, he relied upon what he knew or remembered or upon what was relayed to him through his contacts. Like his friend Gerald Brenan, he believed there was a role for him in writing on the conflict in Spain from a distance and accessing other sources.
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