Superb yet partial: Homage to Catalonia revisited

March 11, 2013

Poster of the 2013 Len Crome Memorial Lecture in Manchester shows George Orwell speaking into a BBC microphone.

Nearly 200 people attended “George Orwell: Homage to Catalonia, 75 Years On,” a conference held this past March 2 by the International Brigade Memorial Trust in Manchester, UK. Among the audience were George Orwell’s adopted son Richard Blair and Quentin Kopp, son of Georges Kopp, Orwell’s commanding officer in Spain. The speakers included Richard Baxell (on the reaction of the British volunteers to the Barcelona May Days), Tom Buchanan (on the reception of Homage to Catalonia by the left in Britain), and Christopher Hall (on the Independent Labour Party volunteers who, with Orwell, enlisted in the POUM militia). Paul Preston, who had to drop out at the last moment, had his contribution read by IBMT Secretary Jim Jump. Professor Mary Vincent, the chair for the day, moderated the discussion.

If there was a consensus to emerge from all the contributions, writes Jim Jump, it was that Homage to Catalonia is a superbly written memoir of Orwell’s experiences as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War and an important testament of the start of his political journey that would lead him to write Animal Farm and 1984. That said, the book presents a partial and localized view of the civil war and thus, in the end, fails to explain properly the reasons for the defeat of the Spanish Republic.

Click here for more information about the poster and George Orwell; for footage of this and other IBMT events, see the IBMT Flickr Photostream and the IBMT channel on YouTube.

Quentin Kopp (left) – son of Georges Kopp – and Richard Orwell (right). – adopted son of Eric Blair (George Orwell) – at the Len Crome Memorial Lecture in Manchester. CC BY-NC-SA Marshall Mateer and IBMT.

Christopher Hall, Professor Mary Vincent, Dr. Richard Baxell and Dr. Tom Buchanan with the IBMT banner at the Len Crome Memorial lecture in Manchester. CC BY-NC-SA Marshall Mateer and IBMT.

Jim Jump – who read Professor Paul Preston’s paper – speaking at the Conference. Also on the platform: Professor Mary Vincent who chaired the meeting, Dr. Richard Baxell, Christopher Hall and Dr. Tom Buchanan. CC BY-NC-SA Marshall Mateer and IBMT.


One Response to “ Superb yet partial: Homage to Catalonia revisited ”

  1. Alan Warren on March 12, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Well done to the IBMT for addressing this subject. For too long, Orwell has been rejected by some in the IB fraternity, and he deserves acknowledgment, if only to engage young people in the wide subject and study of the Spanish Civil War, and, hopefully by extension, the role of the International Brigades. Animal Farm and 1984 are known, if not read, and the connection to Homage to Catalonia is just one short step into the fascinating, but tragic world of the Spanish Civil War.

    Though I could not be there, I will watch the videos of the talks with great interest.

    For those interested, asecond edition of Chris Hall’s history of the POUM, the ILP and Orwell’s comrades in Spain was published at the event under the title “In Spain with Orwell” by Tippermuir Books.

    Alan Warren