*3. [Be aware of Hemingway's synthesis of fact and fiction. Also note the role of personal experience in influencing the authority with which he evokes Spain at war.]
The noted author Ernest Hemingway began For Whom the Bell Tolls in the closing weeks of the Spanish Civil War, writing with a subtly individual perspective on the conflict. Although For Whom the Bell Tolls is fiction, it is based on fact. It avoids crude pro-Republican propaganda; nor does it reflect official Washington policy, which remained isolationist and sceptical of the democratic claims of the Republic. Though the book presents a microcosm of the wider Spanish conflict, it is set during the Segovia Campaign of May 1937. In command of three brigades was a Polish General, Walter, whom Hemingway knew well and who in the novel becomes 'General Golz' (Source H). Other leading characters in For Whom the Bell Tolls are also based on fact, including Source H's 'André Massart', in real life the Comintern's André Marty. The references to his career, speech, appearance and character can be corroborated. Historians Paul Preston and Tom Buchanan describe Marty, respectively, as 'brutal' and 'volatile', while, to Jason Gurney, Marty appeared 'demented'. But another side of Marty is revealed in Source I.
In For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway writes not altogether sympathetically about the Spanish Republic at war, as Source H demonstrates. By exposing the betrayals that undermined the Republic from within, Hemingway avoids the distortions of propaganda. Although with such a novel dramatic licence is to be expected, For Whom the Bell Tolls conveys a 'tough-minded sense of the actual' (Carlos Baker). A bridge between fact and fiction, this classic drama is a conduit to the Civil War experience and is a revealing primary source in its own right.
POLITICS ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE AND THE ROLE OF THE SOVIET UNION
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