Salamina Askerleri

Salamina Askerleri❰Reading❯ ➿ Salamina Askerleri Author Javier Cercas – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk Javier Cercas n, spanyol i sava n n nemli isimlerinden S nchez Mazas n can al c hik yesini anlatt Salamina Askerleri, G khan Aksay n zenli evirisiyle ilk kez T rk edeS nchez Mazas n l mden nas l kurtu Javier Cercas n, spanyol i sava n n nemli isimlerinden S nchez Mazas n can al c hik yesini anlatt Salamina Askerleri, G khan Aksay n zenli evirisiyle ilk kez T rk edeS nchez Mazas n l mden nas l kurtuldu unu ve sava g nlerinde neler ya ad n ara t ran Javier Cercas, bir boyut daha geli tirerek roman n yaz l n da anlat unsuru olarak ustal kla kullan yorSalamina Askerleri, d nya edebiyat n n en nemli modern klasiklerinden biri. Right through the center of Spain runs a deep scar This scar has many dimensions In terms of time, it spans the most of the 20th century and at certain points in time, it cut the land that Spain consists of up into pieces But the deepest scars run in the Spanish psyche and in its individual and collective memory.A lot of the novel Soldiers of Salamis deals with this scar At first, the narrator of the book believes that this scar has nothing to do with him, that it does not affect him I tho Right through the center of Spain runs a deep scar This scar has many dimensions In terms of time, it spans the most of the 20th century and at certain points in time, it cut the land that Spain consists of up into pieces But the deepest scars run in the Spanish psyche and in its individual and collective memory.A lot of the novel Soldiers of Salamis deals with this scar At first, the narrator of the book believes that this scar has nothing to do with him, that it does not affect him I thought so too I bought into the author Javier Cercas s subtle subterfuge I kinda believed that the character Javier Cercas is autobiographical of the author Javier Cercas, and let s face it, since there really was a pro fascist conservative Spanish poet called Rafael Sanchez Mazas, I started to believe that the whole novel was, as the character Javier Cercas claims, a true story.and in a certain sense, a symbolic sense, it is a true story.I want to make an embarrassing confession About 4 months ago, I knew pretty much nothing about the Spanish Civil War I had always wanted to readabout it, but nothing ever gave me that little push I started reading about it a month or two ago, and theyou read about it, theyou want to read about it, but well, here s the pinch It s hugely complex You could read a bunch of Francoist propaganda and believe that the Republicans had been pure evil, and indeed it is true that some atrocities had been committed against the RC church by Republicans but the situation isn t quite as black and white as that The church in Spain had always backed the rich landowners, instead of standing up for the poor, and later on the church also backed the Fascists so it is not too much of a stretch that some people might have identified the church with the oppressors and oppression.But before I end up writing a loooooong essay on the Spanish Civil war, let me try to keep it short by sticking with how the 2 Javier Cercas books, Soldiers of Salamis, See what he did there fit in with all of that See, once General Francisco Franco Bahamonde had declared himself victor of the Spanish Civil war, hostility did not cease He still persecuted the former Republicans and built up a vast propaganda scheme to exalt himself and his Fascist ideals, in which the Republicans, Socialists and Communists were always the villains, and the Fascists Nationalists were the shining, splendorous heroes.He even managed to twist it into saying that the Republicans had been the rebels whilst they had actually been the legitimate democratically elected government, which he and his Fascists rebelled against Franco also averred that they were anti Spain and of course, the fact that they were secularist didn t help their case So, those of the Republicans who managed to escape being shot, ended up silenced and marginalized, or in exile While Franco was conducting his Cultural cleansing program hundreds and thousands of Spaniards were shot en masse and dumped into mass graves Many of the corpses of those shot who had been exhumed, had their hands tied behind their backs Even mothers of young children were shot in the back of the head and kicked into mass graves with other dissidents Their children were given to Nationalist families in some cases In his book The Spanish Holocaust, Paul Preston avers that 200,000 people were executed between 1936 to 1945 by the fascists.I am wandering a bit from the book again here, but you get the picture Franco then induced a sort of national amnesia in which everyone had to conspire in hiding the ugly truth of his brutality, lest they themselves became victims of it Stalin, anyone So anyway, after Franco died, Spain was lucky enough to have had good King Juan Carlos named by Franco as his successor, and as we all know, he was a spanking good chap who helped Spain along and even through a second right wing coup attempt on its teetering legs towards Democracy.Well, so now Spain is democratic, and so what s the problem , you, I and Javier Cercas the author and Javier Cercas the journalist author might ask Well, the problem was that all the roads, buildings, and national monuments in the country were named in honor of the Franco dictatorship and its heroes All the right wingers whose family members died in the right vs leftwing conflict, could go and lay flowers on the graves of their deceased, and say prayers there, or whatever else you would want to do at a beloved one s graveside but all those on the Republicans side who had been murdered by the Franco regime, had simply disappeared Their bodies were lying in unmarked graves, and often times, unmarked mass graves Those who died Falangists, were heroes, but those who died Republicans were reviled as vermin Yes, yes, pretty much like the Nazi s and the Jews, though in this case it was not racially based You just had to be against Franco to be vermin Right, so now the Javier Cercas book starts off with him all obsessed over some pro fascist poet who got a cushy job in Franco s establishment before he drifted off to go and be a dissolute millionaire somewhere, and well, you feel a bit bored reading about all of this and you start to skim a bit and to wonder if you want to see the book through, and then, then suddenly it starts to get interesting That is, once Javier Cercas the character starts to look for Miralles And then, once you had read through the last bit and perhaps pecked away a tear or swallowed a lump in your throat, you realize Hey The brilliance of this book is not only in the emotional rendering of the last bit which is pretty cool just on its own, but you realize that a lot of why people go wow about it, has to do with its cleverly constructed structure.I only realized this, I think, when I read some interview with Javier Cercas the author Not the character in the book, ha ha He said that before he wrote this book, he thought the Spanish Civil War had nothing to do with him ancient history, as he saw it About as ancient and as far removed as the battle of Salamis had been or was that actually Javier Cercas the character before he wrote HIS book Soldiers of Salamis. See what he did there In any case, so, with the story of Rafael Sanchez Mazas told, you would imagine that is the whole story Only, it s not The other side of the story is Miralles story There you goSuffice it to say that in 2007, Spain passed a new law Perhaps I should conclude with a quote from Wikipedia about this lawThe Historical Memory Law principally recognizes the victims on both sides of the Spanish Civil War, gives rights to the victims and the descendants of victims of the Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, and formally condemns the Franco Regime.The conservative Popular Party and the Republican Left of Catalonia ERC both voted against passage of the law For its no vote the Popular Party accused the Socialist Party government by way of the Historical Memory Law of weakening the political consensus of the transition to democracy and using the Civil War as an argument for political propaganda, The Republican Left of Catalonia rejected the law on the basis it did not go far enough Looks like people might finally be starting to remember and acknowledge Miralles and the friends whom he had to leave behind.and if you think about it carefully, you realize that Javier Cercas the author wants us to realize by the end, why that Republican did what he did when he looked the other way Damn, this guy is subtle.EDIT After my conversations with Dolors and Wastrel below, I realized that I had omitted to mention in my review, the work of the Association for the Recuperation of Historical Memory ARMH in Spain At about the turn of the millennium, some Spaniards and ex Spaniards speaking from exile started to say that they wanted to find the bodies of their family members who had been victims of the Nationalists I knew from prior reading on the subject that some mass graves have already been exhumed, but when I wanted to look up on statistics due to my conversation with Wastrel, I found this article, which, by its implications, tells us that the scar running through the Spanish psyche is far from being healed I find it incredibly sad that people would actually feel ashamed that their relatives had been Republicans Only when the Manichean construct of good Nationalists vs bad Republicans is shattered and exposed for the phantasm that it is, can all of Spain s children truly come to terms with their identity and their past 5 stars, with some reservations 5 stars for the idea 5 stars for the inclusion of Roberto Bola o as a character many thanks, Javier, many thanks indeed 5 stars because I m not one to challenge the opinions of Bola o, Mario Vargas Llosa, or Susan Sontag at least with regard to this novel Some minor demeriting for what, at times, seem a relentless history of Spanish and French battles during WWII 5 stars for Part Three, which bested my skepticism during Part One and Part Two how does one 5 stars, with some reservations 5 stars for the idea 5 stars for the inclusion of Roberto Bola o as a character many thanks, Javier, many thanks indeed 5 stars because I m not one to challenge the opinions of Bola o, Mario Vargas Llosa, or Susan Sontag at least with regard to this novel Some minor demeriting for what, at times, seem a relentless history of Spanish and French battles during WWII 5 stars for Part Three, which bested my skepticism during Part One and Part Two how does one empathize with a Falange founder and primary propagandist for Franco s regime 5 stars for Miralles who is Miralles Read the book The title summary is adequate, and I won t belabor it other than to say that Bola o is a significant character in Cercas s true tale And it is a result of reading Bola o s Between Parentheses Essays, Articles, and Speeches, 1998 2003 that I persevered through the first two parts of this novel to see how he handled the character of Bola o Expecting a minor character, someone mentioned only in passing, I was thrilled really, shameless RB fan that I am that Cercas recounts conversations with RB discussing heroism, fiction, and RB s research for a title he was working on which very well might have been the recently published in English, The Third Reich and would call into question its written in 1989 claim by the the publisher However, RB assures readers in Between Parentheses that the Roberto Bola o who appears in Soldiers of Salamis is fictional, in the same way the Javier Cercas who appears in the novel is not the Javier Cercas who authored the novel Enough doubt is created on the truth fiction continuum to render the characters as compelling as the authors Go for it The first two parts of this book revolve around a rather unheroic but entirely factual figure, Sanchez Mazas, a founder member of the Falangist group in Spain in the 1930 s and later a minister in Franco s government with the status of national hero, who, we are told right at the beginning, escaped death by firing squad during the Spanish civil war The narrator, a journalist and writer called Javier Cercas, who is fictional, becomes obsessed with this reprieve from death story, and sets out t The first two parts of this book revolve around a rather unheroic but entirely factual figure, Sanchez Mazas, a founder member of the Falangist group in Spain in the 1930 s and later a minister in Franco s government with the status of national hero, who, we are told right at the beginning, escaped death by firing squad during the Spanish civil war The narrator, a journalist and writer called Javier Cercas, who is fictional, becomes obsessed with this reprieve from death story, and sets out to uncover the facts of the case, tracing written accounts and interviewing surviving members of both the Nationalist and Republican sides The first part reads like a diary of this research, the second part, like the article the journalist might finally write based on that research a dry factual examination of the motivations of Sanchez Mazas, writer and poet, who helped bring Franco to power Journalist Cercas leads the reader into a position where he she becomes impatient and thoroughly frustrated with this endless circling around the miraculously twice reprieved life of such an unheroic and really rather pathetic figure, and then, in the third part, author Cercas changes gear and gives us what we wanted all along the story of a true hero This part is full of everything which seemed to be missing in the first two parts humanity, heroism and hope So author Cercas achieves, by the most subtle of methods which include a fascinating fictional conversation with Roberto Bolano, farthan he could ever have done by any outright criticism of Falangist philosophy Brilliant 4.5 stars Fiction that feels unlike fiction Fiction that s partially about how it s not fiction Non fictional fiction about writing, about war, about endurance persistence, about poets realizing their ideal worlds through political action, about heroism, about historical reconstruction from fragments as a creative act that keeps the dead alive, especially the dead who live on in the words of people almost gone themselves Structurally interesting novel about a writer trying and failing to wri 4.5 stars Fiction that feels unlike fiction Fiction that s partially about how it s not fiction Non fictional fiction about writing, about war, about endurance persistence, about poets realizing their ideal worlds through political action, about heroism, about historical reconstruction from fragments as a creative act that keeps the dead alive, especially the dead who live on in the words of people almost gone themselves Structurally interesting novel about a writer trying and failing to write fiction and backing into this significant story through coincidences related to journalism, including interviewing Roberto Bolano who s a major character in the third part of this, a section that made what was an OK novel in the first part about the writer s discovery of the title story and a pretty damn good novel in the second half the title story itself, essentially a biographical essay on a Spanish fascist poet, sort of like Bolano s Nazi Literature in the Americas butaccessible anddramatic firing squad survival a pretty GREAT novel Almost a few touching moments, too, toward the end A novel that, although it doesn t feel like a conventional novel, excels thanks to its old fashioned 45 degree angle narrative arc upwards, upwards, upwards, upwards until it reaches its long sentence recapitulations in its last pages, including the refrain onwards, onwards, onwards, ever onwards Worth it for the intelligence and honesty and the complex yet clear semi extravagance of the prose, for the approach, for the writing insight a person doesn t write about what he wants to write but what he s capable of writing about or a writer never writes about what he knows, but precisely about what he doesn t know or To write novels you don t need an imagination, Bolano said, just a memory Novels are written by combining recollections , for the Spanish Civil War education, and especially for the portrait of Bolano, including what s basically an interview with him a man of action is frustrated writer if Don Quijote had written one single book of chivalry he never would have been Don Quijote and a drunkenly related tale about a WWII soldier s journey to Chad in Africa and all the way back through Europe, a story reminescent of some of the best parts of 2666 that spurs the final section that makes this book, in the narrator s words, function I almost feel bad about the four stars but I read the first 120 pages in too many sittings ie, it s my fault Also didn t love the characterization of the dippy girlfriend, and maybe thought repetitions of sentences in the summation at the end seemed maybe a bit like high literary hokiness But otherwise a really excellent, enjoyable, educational, interestingly structured, serious yet never haughty novel that, best of all, felt to me unlike a novel all good tales are true tales, at least for those who read them Onwards and upwards From Bolano s Between Parentheses Essays, Articles, and Speeches, 1998 2003 about this novelthere appears a character, someone by the name of Bolano, who is a writer and a Chilean and lives in Blanes, but who isn t me, in the same way that the narrator Cercas isn t Cercas, although both characters are possible and even probable His novel flirts with hybridization, with the relato real or true fiction which Cercas himself invented , with historical ficton, and with hyper objective fiction, though whenever he feels so inclined he has no qualms about betraying these generic categories to slip toward poetry, toward the epic without the slightest blush in any direction, so long as it s forward Just when is the right time to set records straight Wait, in the first place, do we always need to Are there instances when it is better to leave them as they are These are the questions this 2001 novel, Soldiers of Salamis originally written in Spanish by Javier Cercas born 1962 try to pose to us In this novel, the questions can be applied to both national, i.e., Spain particularly in that part of the Spanish Civil War 1936 1939 when the Falangist poet Rafael Sanchez Mazas was not killed Just when is the right time to set records straight Wait, in the first place, do we always need to Are there instances when it is better to leave them as they are These are the questions this 2001 novel, Soldiers of Salamis originally written in Spanish by Javier Cercas born 1962 try to pose to us In this novel, the questions can be applied to both national, i.e., Spain particularly in that part of the Spanish Civil War 1936 1939 when the Falangist poet Rafael Sanchez Mazas was not killed by an unknown militiaman belonging to the Republican party and personal, i.e., the life of Antonio Millares who according to the theory of Cercas was that militiaman.This is a fiction novel based on historical facts Cercas, however, made use of the history only as a stepping stone to illustrate how the lives of his characters are interconnected from the 30 s to the year 2000 when the story ends That specific point in Spain s history, when pro Franco rebels were ordered to be killed by firing squad en masse in the forest of Collell in 1939 up to the 2000 when most of the soldiers, i.e., the Soldiers of Salamis, were already in their twilight years, 80 and up Cercas, the struggling novelist, tried to identify who that militiaman was and what went on right at that moment inside that person s mind that made him decide not to kill the poet.The Philippine history has its own share of records that have to be corrected In school, we were taught that both Gen Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio are both heroes Our teachers did not teach us at least in the provincial public elementary school where I came from that it was actually Aguinaldo who ordered the execution of Bonifacio I only came to know this when I was already a grownup and working I am sure that other countries have some parts of their histories distorted just to protect their image or uphold their national patrimony Example is Japan trying to deny the atrocities of their own soldiers or their Mongolian recruits during the rape of Nanking or the presence of comfort women in the different countries in Southeast Asia including the Philippines.Now, if history bores you, the book is actually divided into 3 parts 1 Forest Friends 2 Soldiers of Salamis and 3 Rendezvous in Stockton The first part is basically the introduction to the second part which is the book the character Cercas yes, the author is a struggling novelist character wrote The third part is where Cercas the author presented the personal level of the story To be honest, this is the part where I decided to give this book a whopping 5 stars This is the part where he introduced the Chilean novelist, Roberto Bolano 1953 2003 of popular contemporary novels like 2666, Savage Detectives, etc. Bolano is a friend of the Millares who said that Ernest Hemingway 1899 1961 is a clown You know that Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War as a correspondent and he, together with George Orwell, sided with the Republican government Interesting, huh I particularly enjoyed the many conversations between Cercas and Bolano One of which is this one Cercas And what s a hero Bolano Someone who considers himself a hero and gets it right Or someone who has courage and an instinct for virtue, and therefore never makes a mistake, or at least doesn t make a mistake the one time when it matters, and therefore can t not be a hero Or someone, like Allende, who understands that a hero isn t the one who kills, but the one who doesn t kill or who lets himself get killed I don t know What s a hero for you Cercas I don t know John Le Carre says one must think like a hero to behave like a decent human being.Bolano Yeah, but a decent human being isn t the same as a hero There re lots of decent people they re the ones who know enough to say no in time heroes, on the other hand, are few and far between Actually, I think there s almost always something blind, irrational, instinctive in a hero s behavior, something that s in their nature and inescapable Also, you can be a decent person for a whole lifetime, but you can t be awe inspiring without a break, and that s why a hero is only a hero exceptionally, once, or at most, during a spell or insanity or inspiration pp 143 144 The author Cercas wants to define exactly what a hero is in the above conversation because he thinks that the real hero is Millares who spared Mazas s life instead of Mazas like most of the people in Spain believe However, when the character Cercas asked Millares towards the end if he and the militiaman were one and the same, he saidNoand the answers to the questions I wrote at the start of this review were what he explained.Thought provoking Strums a chord in your heart Funny at times You never know what s next Makes you wonder how will you look back at your younger years while dying on your deathbed did I live my life to the fullest did I love enough was I truly loved This novel truly deserves all those stars.Also posted in here The word revolution gets bandied about a lot, often without context and usually with positive intonations, as though the act of revolt itself were somehow desirable In an age that makes a pop star of Che Guevara, Javier Cercas writes, soberingly, of a right wing and unheroic revolutionary, the largely forgotten Spanish Falangist writer Raphael Sanchez Mazas, and in doing so exposes the senseless bloodlust that motivated this facist s revolt Sanchez Mazas s cause, the moral and aesthetic def The word revolution gets bandied about a lot, often without context and usually with positive intonations, as though the act of revolt itself were somehow desirable In an age that makes a pop star of Che Guevara, Javier Cercas writes, soberingly, of a right wing and unheroic revolutionary, the largely forgotten Spanish Falangist writer Raphael Sanchez Mazas, and in doing so exposes the senseless bloodlust that motivated this facist s revolt Sanchez Mazas s cause, the moral and aesthetic definition of the Falangists , was, according to Cercas, made up of deliberate ideological confusion, mystical exaltation of violence and militarism, and essentialist vulgarities proclaiming the eternal character of the fatherland and the Catholic religion He goes on However, during the time the war was incubating, the watchwords Sanchez Mazas disseminated still possessed a gleaming suggestion of modernity, that young patriots from good families and the violent ideals they cherished contributed to strengthening At that time Falangist leader Jose Antonio was very fond of quoting a phrase of Oswald Spengler s that at the eleventh hour it had always been a squad of soldiers that had saved civilisation At that time the young Falangists felt they were that squad of soldiers They knew or believed they knew that their families slept an innocent sleep of bourgeois beatitude, not knowing that a wave of impunity and egalitarian barbarism was going to wake them suddenly with a tremendous clamour of catastrophe They felt their duty was to preserve civilisation by force and avoid the catastrophe They knew or believed they knew that they were few, but this mere statistical circumstance did not daunt them They felt they were heroes Although he was no longer young and lacked the physical strength, courage and even the essential conviction to be one but not a family whose innocent sleep of bourgeois beatitude he wished to preserve Sanchez Mazas also felt it, and thus abandoned literature to give himself over to the cause with priestly devotion That didn t keep him from frequenting the most exclusive salons of the capitalTerrifying, ironic, sublime and never merely vitriolic, Cercas s prose sings with indignation it s mesmerising Sentences extend with surprising clauses until at last, stunned and breathless, you shake your head and read them over, savouring them even in your outrage What makes this especially exciting is that Cercas himself seems to proceed largely from instinct, never quite knowing where his investigations or his thought or his sentences might lead him Frequently he stumbles, and with self effacing humour brushes himself off and gets back up again, so that the writing of the story itself supposedly by an alternate, unmarried Javier Cercas whose father has just died and who has given up literature is as much a focus as its historical subject Hilariously, Cercas creates for his alter ego a bleached blonde, spike heeled philistine of a girlfriend who works as a fortune teller on television and fetishises his former middling success as a novelist while criticising his current direction for lacking leftist chic How can you want to write about a fascist with the number of really good lefty writers there must be around Garcia Lorca, for example He was a red, wasn t he she said not waiting for a reply, reaching under the table God, my pussy s so itchy But Cercas has seen a kind of mirror reflection of Lorca s execution in the story of Sanchez Mazas, who escaped into the woods as the Republican firing squad began shooting and whose life so legend has it was saved by an unnamed soldier who found him hiding and let him go free, not to mention by the locals including ex members of the Republican army who fed and sheltered him while he waited for Franco s troops to arrive Of one of these forest friends Cercas writes Over the following years, Maria would write to Sanchez Mazas many times and he would always answer in his own handwriting Sanchez Mazas letters no longer exist, because Maria, on the advice of her mother, who for some reason feared they might compromise her, eventually destroyed them As for her own letters, in them she asked for relatives, friends or acquaintances to be released from prison, which they almost invariably were so over the years she was endowed with a saint s halo, or made into a fairy godmother for the desperate people of the region, whose families came in search of protection for the indiscriminate victims of a post war period that in those days no one could have imagined would last so long Other than her family, no one knew that the source of those favours wasn t a secret lover of Maria s, or a supernatural power she d always had but hadn t thought appropriate to use until now, but rather a fugitive beggar she d offered a little hot food one day at dawn and whom, after that mid morning in February when he disappeared down the dirt track, she never saw again in her entire life.As to Sanchez Mazas s own life after the war Probably by then he no longer believed in anything Probably in his heart, never in his life had he truly believed in anything, and least of all, in what he d defended or preached He practised politics, but deep down always scorned them He exalted time honoured values loyalty, courage but practised treachery and cowardice, and contributedthan most to the brutalisation the Falange s rhetoric inflicted on these values he also exalted old institutions the monarchy, the family, religion, the fatherland but didn t lift a finger to bring a king to Spain, ignored his family, often living apart from them, would have exchanged all of Catholicism for a single canto of The Divine Comedy and as for the fatherland, well, no one knows what the fatherland is, or maybe it s simply an excuse for venality or sloth I have but only in the most mediocre way measured up to the hope placed in me and help given me, he confessed around this timeAs an examination of what makes someone sell his soul for an illusion for something he very likely knows is an illusion , I think this is unsurpassed, at least in my reading Butthan that, by the novel s end we encounter a true picture of heroism, and though this last section seems clunky at times the machinery just a little too transparent, the last pages slightly too sentimental it is very moving It s about those inconceivable moments when all of civilisation depends on a single man, and about that man and about how civilisation repays that man Why did the Republican soldier let Sanchez Mazas go Maybe because that s what made him different to Sanchez Mazas because no one deserves to die for an idea, no matter how ill informed or cynical or dishonest And that Sanchez Mazas lived on as an ineffectual, neutered puppet to the regime he had helped engender is fitting punishment that he did his best to help his forest friends goes at least some way towards redeeming him and proving the lone soldier s actions right.I loved this book, even though at times I was slightly suspicious of it So much repetition, so much re examining of the same events, yet he gets away with it And so indebted to Bolano, yet because he s upfront about that debt he transforms it in a way and on a small scale , he superscedes Bolano.In the 1980s, J.G Ballard said the balance between reality and fiction had shifted Increasingly their roles are reversed We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre emption of any original response to experience by the television screen We live inside an enormous novel It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel The fiction is already there The writer s task is to invent the reality.Cercas has invented the reality of his part factual novel with skill and artistry His book is unique and illuminating and touching Funny, too And it proves again, from a rare perspective, the words of Simon Bolivar All who have served the revolution have ploughed the sea I wanted a copy of this book long before I read Cercas Anatomy of a Moment and finally tracked it down in Spain Worth the wait because I totally enjoyed the read.Like Anatomy of a Moment, Cercas uses a personal anecdote in telling the story of an incident that happened at the end of the Spanish Civil War The father of a friend of Cercas was involved in the firing squad incident of the Falangist poet Rafael S nchez Mazas Without giving much away, S nchez Mazas gets away but runs into a so I wanted a copy of this book long before I read Cercas Anatomy of a Moment and finally tracked it down in Spain Worth the wait because I totally enjoyed the read.Like Anatomy of a Moment, Cercas uses a personal anecdote in telling the story of an incident that happened at the end of the Spanish Civil War The father of a friend of Cercas was involved in the firing squad incident of the Falangist poet Rafael S nchez Mazas Without giving much away, S nchez Mazas gets away but runs into a soldier who lets him go Why This becomes the premise for the book.Untypical of a typical history book, this post modern version is divided into three sections The friends of the forest chapter 1 sets up the story It involves Cercas, his girlfriend Conchi, the friend Ferlioso and others involved in laying down all the relevant information in 1994 There is some hilarious episodes in this chapter and Cercas witty commentary makes it fun to read Cercas keeps telling everyone that he wants to write a real story about the past, and even when Conchi asks why he wants to write a story about a right wing person instead of some great leftist like Garcia Lorca, he reiterates that we need to know the past from both sides Even the side less popular.Chapter 2 is Soldiers of Salamis is the actual story compiled by all involved and written by Cercas This is a page turner and readslike a historical novel with some of his off the remark commentary The best part is knowing what became of S nchez Mazas.Chapter 3 is a surreal who done it After finishing the book but hasn t sent it to the publishers yet, the one piece missing is finding Miralles, the soldier who let S nchez Masas go Enter Roberto Bola o Yes, the Chilean writer has a major part in this book Now I recently listened to a podcast interview with Cercas, and even in his Epilogue to the 2015 edition, I was puzzled What is the real story How does memory affect things How does the writer s creative versus the facts affect the story Can the writer s version bereal than the real story I won t give things away but there is a lot to ponder here The last part of the book on what is a hero is very resonate today as it was in 1939 Some very good stuff here One feels that Cercas himself questions just about everything, but after reading Anatomy of a Moment , this is what defines him as a great writer What is history after all Memories, reflections, lies, lies and lies quoting Miralles.This is a skilled look at history, writing, and reflections on the nature of war that one needs to read A long echo of the Civil War can still be heard after the sixty years And the author tries to find an answer to some questions that have been left unanswered in the past Accidentals encounters, planned meetings, recollections and musings, interviews and talks all serve his purpose books always end up taking on a life of their own, and because a person doesn t write about what he wants to write about but what he s capable of writing about The story is told in a rather flat and officious lang A long echo of the Civil War can still be heard after the sixty years And the author tries to find an answer to some questions that have been left unanswered in the past Accidentals encounters, planned meetings, recollections and musings, interviews and talks all serve his purpose books always end up taking on a life of their own, and because a person doesn t write about what he wants to write about but what he s capable of writing about The story is told in a rather flat and officious language of a scribe and it holds no surprises and there isof newspaper than of literature There is a fascinating earlier post on this book by Javier Garcia, in Spanish, which links to a longer post of his on the book, and then to one by the author Roberto Bola o The review by Bola o is largely a description of the book, but because he knows Javier Cercas he reveals two important facts that are relevant to understanding Soldiers of Salamis One is that the Javier Cercas who appears in the novel is not the author, or at any rate has several characteristics that are not those of the There is a fascinating earlier post on this book by Javier Garcia, in Spanish, which links to a longer post of his on the book, and then to one by the author Roberto Bola o The review by Bola o is largely a description of the book, but because he knows Javier Cercas he reveals two important facts that are relevant to understanding Soldiers of Salamis One is that the Javier Cercas who appears in the novel is not the author, or at any rate has several characteristics that are not those of the author Bola o then says tellingly that the Roberto Bola o who appears in the novel is not him, either, although he doesn t say why We can suppose, however, that the whole story of a character called Miralles in the third part of the book, much of which comes from the mouth of the novelist s Roberto Bola o , is fiction That is to say, the real Roberto Bola o denies telling Cercas the story.The strange and interesting thing about the review by the real Bola o is that it largely retells the story of the book it can be found, in Spanish, here Apart from making the point that two of the main characters are fictions and by implication, that many of the others are too , it doesn t comment on the book This is doubly fascinating One question is why does Bola o do in the review what his alter ego does in the book, i.e tell a story It is almost as if with the exception of his pointing out the two fictions, as it were, in the fiction he is doing in the review what he himself would have done if faced with the same material, i.e recounted it in a way that suits his own way of telling a fictional story.The other fascination is that not only does Bola o appear in the book, but the style of the book and the treatment of a partially real story is very much what Bola o might have done if he had decided, himself, to write Soldiers of Salamis There isthan one echo of Bola o in Cercas s book, and I found myself thinking about Bola o as I read it, well before I realised that in part three Bola o actually appears or, at least, a fictional Bola o.There is yet another fascination The book is about death, death narrowly avoided but inevitably confronted later One character avoids death, another is it is strongly hinted the agent by which he avoids a death, and both of these, along with the real equivalent of the other main character, Bola o, are all now dead Cercas, who should also count as a main character since his fictional self is the protegonist of the story at least in parts 1 and 3 is of course alive But he offers us a reflection on death, of the way the dead in some senses stay alive, at least while they are remembered and then, ultimately, when no one remembers them any longer, they are truely dead Are then Cercas, and muchpointedly was Bola o , writing to avoid or postpone death In fact, isn t writing a novel like Soldiers of Salamis a sort of bid for immortality, a bid which at least one of characters tries to make, and fails A final irony about me reading this book is that I d forgotten I d read it some years before However, at that point I had never read anything by Bola o, whereas not long ago I read his 2666 It is much better to have read the fascinating Cercas book, having got the contrastingly enormous one by Bola o under my belt I wonder, incidentally, what Cercas thinks of 2666 Thomas Carlyle once said The history of the world is but the biography of great men Well, this book is a novel revolving around the antithesis of such a statement The driver of the novel is the history of the shooting of Rafael Sanchez Maza, one the main ideologists behind fascism in Spain during the first half the past century He escapes his shooting and in the ensuing persecution one of the soldiers looking for him allows his escape The protagonist of this novel is a journalist writer Thomas Carlyle once said The history of the world is but the biography of great men Well, this book is a novel revolving around the antithesis of such a statement The driver of the novel is the history of the shooting of Rafael Sanchez Maza, one the main ideologists behind fascism in Spain during the first half the past century He escapes his shooting and in the ensuing persecution one of the soldiers looking for him allows his escape The protagonist of this novel is a journalist writer who decides who delve further into this particular corner of the past.The whole book is a work if historical fiction where fact is intertwined with fiction and that is actually one of the cornerstones of this book reconstructing the past and making a fiction are activities that are hard to distinguish More importantly to this narrative, the people that ends up in history books is not infrequently just the people that was petty enough to get close to power and get immortalized while the real driver of history is composed frequently by anonymous people nobody remembers now but without which the world would be other.If starting a book with the a quasi shooting sounds very reminiscent of Garcia Marquez I should add that this is no coincidence, his influence is particularly notorious in part 2 of the book which was so so to my taste Nonetheless first part is certainly a very unique narrative to the author and the last one is an ode to the almighty Bola o Yet, the whole book is unique piece of work by a very talented author who seems to be able to merge narratives techniques with the same ease that birds fly.Based on the strength of part one this book would get 5 stars, based on the strength of part 3 it would go to my favorites shelf nonetheless the part 2 was a 3 stars reading, at best And yet, it is hard to blame the author for that His intention was clear and unavoidable narrating the well known part of history that involved a petty intellectual associated to a murderous and mediocre regime and it had to be told or the whole point of the novel would be lost Besides, his technique with lots of narrative jumps is brilliant But yet, I wasn t particularly attracted to this narrative of pettiness Yet, don t miss the point Sanchez Mazas could had decided in favor of respect of life in his writing and yet he went for vitriolic rhetoric The disgusting protagonist of the second part of the book could never understood that even when shown in its most plodding explicit form by an anonymous soldier That is what drives the whole novel beyond the mere narration of a quasi shooting Definitely one of the most important pieces of Spanish narrative in the past decade.4.5 5