Recent scholarly and literary discussion of the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939—mainly occasioned by the publication of Spain Betrayed—has inadvertently shed light on a previously neglected scandal in English letters. This is the wholesale misappropriation and even mutilation of George Orwell’s works by a British pedant, Peter Davison.

The link between Orwell and Spain is an obvious one: the great English political critic was transformed by his experience in the Spanish war as a volunteer in the militia of an anti-Stalinist radical movement, the Partit Obrer d’Unificació Marxista (POUM). This small element of the Catalan left, whose name means “Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification,” fought against the counter-revolutionary forces of General Francisco Franco on a key section of the Aragon front in the northeast of the peninsula.

 

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