Max Aub: Campo abierto [Open Field]


The latest addition to my website is Max Aub‘s Campo abierto [Open Field], the second book in Max Aub’s Magic Labyrinth series about the Spanish Civil War, though the third to be published. This one is set in Valencia in the first part (where Aub grew up) and Madrid in the second part, leading up to the fall of Madrid to the Francoist forces. The book is a series of stories about the various individuals caught up in the Civil War, mainly, though certainly not exclusively on the republican side. We follow a revolutionary theatre group, in particular two young people, Vicente and Asunción, who are in love but too involved in their theatre and politics to tell one another. We also follow various individuals who get shot, because they are on the wrong side, in the wrong place at the wrong time or, in a few cases, fighting against the enemy. Summary executions occur all too frequently. When we move to Madrid, we follow the approach of the Francoist forces as they gradually get closer, with the poorly armed republicans unable to resist Franco’s tanks. Vicente and Asunción both move to Madrid, he fighting with the forces defending Madrid, she with the theatre group. The book ends as Madrid is about to fall to Franco. Aub tells an excellent story, showing the dissent within the republican forces, both the enthusiasm of many of the ordinary people as well as the horrors they have to face and the inevitable defeat, which they cannot believe will happen.

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