Franco’s Crypt: Spanish Culture and Memory Since 1936

Jeremy Treglown. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-10842-7
Spain under Nationalist dictator Francisco Franco was not a mute, traumatized wasteland, but a country with a complex, imaginative culture that deserves to be remembered, according to this probing study. Treglown (Roald Dahl: A Biography) surveys an eclectic range of cultural artifacts from the Spanish Civil War, the Franco period, and Spain’s modern democratic era—everything from monuments and hydro-electric dams, to video games and the latter-day movement to unearth the mass graves of Republican opponents shot by Nationalist forces. He unflinchingly registers the crimes of the Franco government, but argues that sophisticated, even subversive voices were tolerated and at times nurtured by the regime: novels with ambivalent attitudes toward the war and the sides that fought it, challenging art, films that satirized Franco-ite mores. Treglown presents subtle and perceptive critical readings of unjustly neglected works, showing how far they depart from the caricature of bland conservatism that some apply to the culture of the Franco era. But he also advances a deeper argument about modes of historical awareness, contrasting the confrontational and sometimes simplistic commemorative politics of democratic Spain with the oblique, symbolic but still rich expressiveness of the more repressed Franco period. Treglown’s elegant and thoughtful meditation shows us that authoritarian power is neither monolithic nor immune to the soft power of civil society and individual creativity. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Aug. 13)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 08/13/2013
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-374-53465-3
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-7011-8062-1
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4299-4342-0
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!