- Modern Spain 1875-1980 by Raymond Carr
Oxford, 201 pp, £7.50, March 1981, ISBN 0 19 215828 7
From a distance, the image of a pistol-toting Civil Guard colonel holding prisoner Spain’s cabinet and members of parliament recalled Marx’s phrase that history, tragic in its first occurrence, repeats itself as farce. From a lesser distance, the long night of 23-24 February, with tanks in the streets of Valencia, national television taken over, ministers and deputies incarcerated under armed guard in the Cortes, sometimes seemed like history setting out to repeat itself as tragedy.
Vol. 3 No. 15 · 20 August 1981
SIR: Ronald Fraser’s Marxist analysis of the present situation in Spain (LRB, 16 July) was interesting. He was, however, supposed to be reviewing a book on modern Spain by Professor Carr. The book was almost totally ignored: no attempt was made to assess or criticise it. Could the book be properly reviewed in a later issue? I am at least as interested in the views of Professor Carr on modern Spain as I am in those of Mr Fraser – an interest that might well be shared by other readers.
Vol. 3 No. 19 · 15 October 1981
SIR: I sympathise with J.E.R. Little’s view (LRB, 16 July) that my article two issues earlier was unsatisfactory as a review of Raymond Carr’s Modern Spain; the criticism, I believe, goes to the heart of a wider reviewing tendency here and thus requires an explanation. The failure, however lamentable, was not gratuitous. It arose directly from my brief to write an essay on, not a review of, modern Spain. This I attempted to do. If I misinterpreted the brief I regret it: but other contributions on these pages do not lead me to believe it whole-heartedly, no more than does LRB’s excision of a paragraph in my essay praising Professor Carr’s excellent book.
The passage which had to be removed for reasons of space from Ronald Fraser’s 2,500 words consisted of the sentence: ‘It is appropriate to ask how history can help us understand the Spanish present, and particularly pleasing to have Raymond Carr’s excellent short history of Modern Spain to guide us through the labyrinth of the past hundred years.’ Mr Fraser was not asked, let alone ‘briefed’, to ignore the book in question: he was invited to say something on his own account, if he wished, about the recent history of Spain. He did not ignore the book: he refers to it with approval at various points. And if he felt he was being objectionably briefed, he could always have refused to act. We would be foolish to make a practice of ignoring the books we review, and we don’t.
Editor, ‘London Review’