Item description for The Cypresses Believe in God: Spain on the Eve of Civil War - A Novel by Jose Maria Gironella...
Considered by many critics to be the greatest novel about the Spanish Civil War, this classic work by Spaniard Jose Maria Gironella is an unbiased account of the complicated events, movements and personalities that led up to the war. Beginning in 1931, Cypresses covers the next five years of political unrest, culminating in the explosion of the brutal war that wreaked such great havoc on Spain and its citizens.
In his epic novel, both gripping and suspenseful, Gironella deftly portrays the human conflict, both internal and external. The most influential philosophical movements of the 20th century are embodied in various characters. Through them, the reader is introduced to every faction involved--ancharist, communist, Catholic, royalist, existentialist, and others.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Cypresses Believe in God: Spain on the Eve of Civil War?
Nuanced and powerful Feb 18, 2008
The Cypresses Believe in God is an astonishing depiction of how hatred of religion gradually tears apart human community -- perhaps a warning about America's future as well as an insight into Spain's past.
Gironella is balanced in his critiques. Both conservative and socialist arguments appear to have merit; democratic debates and elections are at first possible; only the Falangists on the far Right and the anarchists on the far Left seem irrational. However, the seed of destruction lies in the endemic malice against all that is connected to the Church, e.g. burnings of churches, violence to innocent seminarians and nuns. This malice provokes a reaction, and that provokes a counter-reaction, finally leading to full Civil War.
My wife and I gave this volume to everyone on our gift list this past Christmas. It is a gripping saga with tremendous significance for human affairs.
The Forgotten War.....Spanish Civil War Jan 12, 2008
The Spanish Civil War is neglected in the teaching of World History. Here is your chance to learn and remember what lead to the Spanish Civil War.There are three books in the series,before the war,during and after.You will learn why to this day artists,writers,and even Hollywood will not tell the truth of this awful slaughter of innocent Catholics and freedom loving people.
A Panorama on the Scale of a Russian Novel Jul 24, 2006
Like Russian novels of the nineteenth century, Gironella's great book is quite lengthy. But once you start reading, you are hooked. As in all great novels, you come to know the characters as if they are live persons you have met. You want to know what happens next to them. To understand the Spanish Civil War--maybe, to understand fully any historical era, you must ironically turn to a novel that captures the personalities and passions that shape history. Gironella does that for us and reverses the immense and false propaganda, encouraged by writers like Hemingway, that the Loyalist government in Madrid was a noble cause, when in fact it was a vehicle for anti-Christian fanaticism of the worst kind. But Gironella, like any great novelist, does not just paint black-and-white characters. He shows the mixture of good and bad behind people of all ideological hues. He captures the passion and pride of Spain expressed in the dreams and commitments of individuals struggling against each other. They hated each other, but they were all Spaniards seeking dignity for themselves and for the nation in savagely contradictory ways, some of them rational, others barbaric. In addition, it is unmistakable that Gironella is a Catholic. Catholic wisdom courses through the novel without preachiness. It seeps through characters like Mosen Francisco ("Mosen" is a Spanish honorific for priests meaning literally "My Lord," similar to the title Don or Dom), or the Christ-figure of the book, César. You will not only understand Spain and her savage civil war: you will understand yourself and life better.
Almost unbiased Jun 15, 2006
To prepare for a trip to Spain I plowed through Gironella's masterpiece, thought by some to be the most unbiased account written of the Civil War. And until the bloody ending, it is. Gironella portrays the middle class Alvear family at the center of the swirling political currents in Spain in the 1930's after the establishment of the Republic. Spain shed its monarch later than the rest of Europe, and subsequent events mirrored events that had occurred in other countries many years earlier. Making the transition to democracy is complex--not only must the form of government be worked out, but the power of religion and the military must be reined in, and above all there must be a broad commitment to the rule of law. Gironella deftly portrays these competing forces through his characters, and through the Alvear family in microcosm. We see the complexities of the situation--our popular understanding that the Falange was "bad" and the Leftists "good" is woefully inadquate.
Not knowing anything about Gironella, a reader is able to see the merits of all sides, as well as smile at the innocent beliefs of some of the characters in the communist system, the rectitude of the Church, the belief in "Spain" as an ideal. Gironella loses control of his story at the end though, and ultimately his Falangist sympathies come through, as the leftists embark on a bloody rampage in retaliation for an attempted military coup.
Extremely helpful to this reader were the lists of characters, both fictional and historical, at the end of the novel, as well as the descriptions of the many political factions--and there are a lot of them. I found this translation a little clumsy at times, perhaps a bit too literal, but the novel is well worth your time for a deeper understanding of these complex events.
I've never bought so many copies of any book! Dec 22, 2002
I've taken up history books of late - and picked up this novel to read it through a second time. Considered by most old Spaniards to be the most unbiased account of events leading up to the Spanish civil war. What an amazing book! Not only is the story gripping, but the characters have an unmatched depth. Human conflict, both internal and external is portrayed with impressive deftness. The most influential philosophical movements of the 20th century are embodied in likeable, lovable, and sympathetic characters (anarchism, existentialism, communism, catholocism, etc). The Alvear family is touched by each through people they meet, and through changes in their beloved Gerona. But the Alvear's somehow avoid being absorbed into any one ideology and thus remain the perfect referees to convey the meaning in all that happens during these tumultuous years. If you like history: read this book. If you like philosophy: read this book. If you like a great story: read this book. At least, that's what I tell all the people to whom I've given copies.