Max Aub: Campo cerrado (Field of Honour)


The latest addition to my website is Max Aub‘s Campo cerrado (Field of Honour). Aub was born into a French Jewish family but the family moved to Seville when he was eleven and he adopted Spanish as his language. He is best-known for his series of six books called the Magic Labyrinth, set in the Spanish Civil War. This is the first, and the only one translated into English. It tells the story of Rafael Serrador, a young man from Castellón, near Valencia who, aged sixteen, moves to Barcelona. He gradually becomes involved in politics. He is very unsure of himself and what he believes and ends up joining the Falange, i.e. the Fascists. He starts becoming disillusioned when the leader tells him that he is interested only in ideas and not people. When the Spanish Civil War does break out, at the end of the novel, we follow events in Barcelona as the workers resist the take-over of the city by the Fascists and Nationalists. At this point, Rafael realises the error of his ways and fights with the anarchists rather than the Falange. It is an excellent book, though the language is sometimes difficult (in the Spanish; I have not seen the English version) and Aub does get carried away with both his descriptions and dialogue.

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