Leftist Culture, Leftist Memory

This book’s lugubrious title, Franco’s Crypt, indicates its partiality.  Written in a fluid style befitting its author, who has published in the New York Times Book Review and served as editor for The Times Literary Supplement, the book draws on multiple sources, including necrology, photography, monuments, museums, art, literature, memoirs, histories, and school curricula.  The varied approaches, however, produce a uniform result: Franco, the Nationalist uprising, the Franco years, and the Catholic Church that “colluded” with Franco were awful.  On the other hand, the republic and its defenders were good.  (Jeremy Treglown calls these defenders “democrats,” although they included the Communist Party of Spain, the Trotskyites and Russia under Stalin.)

The book even has a chapter on “Franco’s Films,” though only one, Raza, is discussed by Treglown, who describes it as unsophisticated.  For the author, the rest are notable simply for taking place against the background of Franco’s Spain, which the films criticize more or less subtly.  Most were “made during the dictatorship.”  An Italian director in Spain succeeded with “a number of social satires that got past the censors.”  A reader cannot help but suppose that there must have been some freedom...

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