This is another classic of Spain, written by short story writer and essayist VS Pritchett in 1954. He had travelled extensively in Spain prior to the Spanish Civil War and this book charts his return. His description on the second page of flying over the reddish-brown, yellow and black Iberian Peninsula, looking down at the high plateau and gorges of La Mancha, the dark green of olive trees, the dust and the dirt, will be familiar to today’s Easyjet passengers en-route to Malaga and the South. Pritchett’s style is perhaps old-fashioned now, but this book is crammed with history and politics, and stories of real people such as the flamenco artists in Madrid who will perform for a bottle of brandy and a cigarette. This is old Spain, it is easy to forget that when this book was written Franco was in power and the Civil War had finished only 15 years before.
On the last page he describes a conversation which could happen anywhere, at any time, after any war. The author asks in a café who destroyed the bridge over the Ebro.
‘The others,’ he said.
‘But who are the others?’ I said. ‘Fascists or the Reds?’
‘The others,’ he said. ‘In a civil war,’ he said, ‘it is always the others – and whoever wins is right.’
5 to remember
los otros – the others
siempe – always
otro/a – another
antes que – prior to
el regreso – the return