Spanish Culture and Memory Since 1936
A captivating examination of collective memory in Spain during Franco's dictatorship
History is written by the victors. It’s a cliché, but a reliable one – except in the case of the Spanish Civil War. Many believe – wrongly, as it turns out – that under Franco’s dictatorship, nothing truthful or imaginatively worthwhile could be said or written or created. And this myth reinforces another: that there is a national pact to forget what really happened. In the four decades since Franco’s death foreign narratives – For Whom the Bell Tolls, Casablanca, Homage to Catalonia – still have greater credibility than Spanish ones. Yet La Guerra de España was, as its name asserts, Spain’s own war, and in recent years the country has begun to reclaim this crucial aspect of its history.
In a compelling investigation of collective memory Jeremy Treglown talks to the descendants of men and women killed during the civil war and ensuing dictatorship and stands on a hillside with them as remains are excavated; he attends a Sunday service in the basilica dedicated to Franco’s memory, examines monuments, paintings, novels, films, computer games and finds that despite state censorship, creativity under Franco was burgeoning and events of the time were in fact vividly recorded.
In this groundbreaking and captivating new book Jeremy Treglown examines the very tenet of our cultural identity: how we remember. Franco’s Crypt is a much-needed re-examination of a history we only thought we knew.
“Alert to nuance, resistant to over-simplification…. Intriguing and passionately argued … in the Gerald Brenan tradition”
“This is the most comprehensive, most perceptive book on Spain that I have read for a long time. I'm full of admiration for the scale of Treglown’s undertaking, for its fine balance between storytelling and reflection and its subtle and deep political and aesthetic judgments, which touch on practically everything that irritates or pains me most about my country. Normally these matters are presented abroad with exasperating stereotypes and, at home, with intolerable factionalism. Spain, so obsessed with memory, is extraordinarily forgetful. This is a book that must be read, in Spain and abroad, by anyone who wants to understand the country’s history, her present and future”
Antonio Munoz Molina
“In a book ranging elegantly between travel writing, history, literary criticism and investigative journalism, Treglown unpicks the puzzle of Spain”
Giles Foden, Condé Nast Traveller
“Evocative and melancholy”
Sunday Business Post
“Treglown's interplay of history with personal narratives is skilful and incisive”
Mercedes Camino, Times Higher Education
“A deeply felt exploration of a part of history that to most of us is dark matter, and a thought-provoking portrait of a society where the dictator, instead of being ousted or defeated, died happy and old at the age of 82”
Sinclair McKay, Daily Telegraph
“Important, lively and appetisingly varied... No one who cares for the deep and dark truth about Spain can fail to admire and learn from what is to be found in the many-chambered depths of Franco's Crypt”
Frederic Raphael, Literary Review
“One of the many pleasures of Franco's Crypt is that it draws our attention to a long list of Franco-era writers and film-makers whose work is unfamiliar or forgotten”
Patrick Marnham, Spectator