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More Writers of the Spanish Civil War

Experience Put to Use

Series:

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.

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Chapter 8. Peter Kemp (1915?–1993) A Francoist British Soldier and Writer in the Spanish Civil War (José Ruiz Mas)

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JOSÉ RUIZ MAS

Chapter 8. Peter Kemp (1915?–1993)A Francoist British Soldier and Writer in the Spanish Civil War

Brief biography

Introduction

On August 16, 1985, the British conservative weekly The Spectator included an article titled ‘Drawn by the Sound of Guns. Survivors: a Profile of Peter Kemp, Veteran of Many Wars’ as part of a series of ← 318 | 319 → articles about ‘survivors’. Peter Kemp was being introduced to the newspaper’s readership as an Englishman in his early seventies who had served in three different armies, the Spanish, British and French, in a variety of corps (the cavalry, the infantry, the artillery, in irregular or guerrilla fighting, insurgency and counter-insurgency) in different international conflicts, but always with the same mission: to stop Communism and Marxism from gaining ground in the world. This was indeed the leitmotiv and main purpose in life of this ‘knight errant’ (1985, 14), or this ‘hero of our times’ (14), as the anonymous author of the article described him.1 Alas, Kemp’s ‘rather reactionary politics’ (14) prevented him from enjoying the fame and public recognition that his adventurous life should have granted him, despite having had many more interesting adventures in the Spanish Civil War to write about than his famous left-wing counterpart, George Orwell, author of the autobiographical Homage to Catalonia (1938), to which Kemp’s Mine Were of Trouble (1957) is inevitably compared. Indeed, among other similarities between these two English volunteers in...

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