NOTE! This site uses cookies

By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more detalis, see Read more

Accept

What are you looking for?

George Orwell’s son follows father’s steps in Barcelona during Spanish Civil War

Richard Blair toured the site, commenting on Spain’s historical memory policies: “We can’t have a black hole in history – something has happened”

SHARE

19 May 2019 02:33 PM

by

Cristina Tomàs White|Barcelona

Richard Blair, son of world-famous anti-totalitarian writer George Orwell (whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair), visited the site of the clinic where his father had been treated during the Spanish Civil War.

Orwell, an “old-fashioned socialist,” traveled to Barcelona as a journalist in December of 1936 to find out more about the Civil War, which he felt was being misrepresented by the foreign press. He then enlisted in the war as a Republican volunteer for POUM, a Trotskyist faction.

As he describes in his memoir ‘Homage to Catalonia,’ Orwell was shot through the throat by a Francoist sniper while at the front in Aragon: “Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the center of an explosion. There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all round me, and I felt a tremendous shock – no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shriveled up to nothing.”

  • Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the center of an explosion. There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all round me, and I felt a tremendous shock – no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shriveled up to nothing.

Orwell was then sent back to the POUM’s Maurín Sanatorium in Barcelona, which today houses the Benjamin Franklin International School. It is here that his son, Richard Blair, accompanied by his own son and granddaughter as well as members of the George Orwell Society, toured the school and then answered questions at the school’s auditorium.

Blair spoke to Catalan News of the influence Catalonia had on his father since he had been forced to flee the country as “[POUM] had been outlawed by the Russians, by Stalin particularly, and they were being hunted down.” This experience had a lasting effect on the markedly anti-totalitarian author who would later go on to write ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984.’

When asked about policies adopted during the Spanish transition to democracy following Franco’s death in which it was decided that Spain would look to the future and not deal with its dark past, Blair answered cautiously. While not wanting to criticize a foreign government, he said he found it disappointing: “We can’t have a black hole in history – something has happened,” although he also warned that the truth can be manipulated.

SHARE

  • George Orwell's son, Richard Blair, answers questions at the Benjamin Franklin School of Barcelona on May 15 (Aina Sastre/ACN)

  • George Orwell's son, Richard Blair, answers questions at the Benjamin Franklin School of Barcelona on May 15 (Aina Sastre/ACN)

RELATED