Uncertain Glory by Joan Sales
original title – Incerta glòria
Translator – Peter Bush
Source – review copy
(VI: From ‘Cancionero Y Romancero De Ausencias’)
where you and I are sleeping,
between blue prickly-pears,
blue agaves and children,
who scream excitedly
if the dead darken the road.
From here to the cemetery, all
is blue, golden, clear.
Four paces, and the dead.
Four paces, and the living.
Clear, blue and golden,
my son there grows remote.
The cemetery is near a poem by Miguel Hernandez ,which Pablo Neruda called the face of spain .Source
Well this is the first of two book from catalan I’ll be reviewing you in the next few weeks , this first is considered a classic in Catalan and also one of the definitive works on the Spanish civil war .Joan Sales was born in Barcelona and studied law just before the outbreak of the Civil war , he fought in the civil war and afterwards he lived in Exile .He first published the book in 1956 ,but revised it over the years until the definitive version of the book came out in 1971 , as the earlier version had been subject to Franco censorship of them .
We are still doing , nothing , just waiting for the recruits to arrive .We have already alloted officer to the future companies :I’ve got the 4th and my captain will be lieutenant gallart , the ex-waiter .
The village couldn’t be more dismal :It’s boxed in and you can’t see until you’re inside .It’s boundaries are extensive ,it’s mostly barren waste with the large olive trees that account for its name .
The arrival at the village with the woman of the Castilo de Olivo .
The book follows Lieutenant lluis Ruscalleda he is assigned to Aragonese front in 1937 he is a lawyer (in some ways you could say this is in some part Joan sales ), he arrives but start away doesn’t fir in his comrades seem to like a drink and he isn’t a drinker , but along the way he meets a woman the women of the Castilo de OLivo , she is an intriguing woman , that intrigues the lieutenant she became the lady of the house after she was a servant in the house .Meanwhile Lluis is writing back to Trini his former lover that is a new woman and that is struggling with the war to bring up their son .The winter sees the brigade is sent to a quiet part of the line this brings even more problems , Lluis also writes to his brother and we also see Trini write to her old friend about her struggles with life .Add to this the war isn’t going their way and a strong streak of Catholic guilt and the church in the war , in the story we see the spanish civil war from a Catalan point of view from the losing side .A picture of the chaos that civil war is .
Dear juli , I received a letter from Lluis the day before yesterday after weeks without one .I was so pleased to hear you are both in the same brigade .I hadn’t heard from him so long ! The only news I had was the monthly postal order he dent me without fail .
Trini on the home front so to speak worries about Lluis at the front .
I have read a number of novels about the civil war those written in recent years ,by the likes of Manual Rivas , that look back at the aftermath and Chaos of the war once the dust had settled so to speak his book carpenters pencil looked at being a prisoner and returning after the war .I have also read a couple of books by English languages writers written that were involved with the Spanish civil war one by Hemingway which isn’t like this book as his writing is full of bravado .The other is the novella by George Orwell Homage to Catalonia ,which is the nearest to this book as it follows Orwell’s time at the front .But this book adds more dimension to the fighting given its form , which is an epistolary novel what we are given is the full picture of the fighting , life on the front line not just the fighting but the sitting on the front line .We also see from Trini the life on the home front what is it like raising a kid in the war .The characters in the book , give a full picture of the world around them ,Sales brings lots of details to the story that make the war leap of the page .as we see how the war effects each character changing the relationships but also the view of the world around them .
Have you a favourite book about the spanish civil war ?