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This article is taken from PN Review 80, Volume 17 Number 6, July - August 1991.

Into the Spanish Cockpit C.J. Fox

IT WAS IN 1954 that I made my first and - until this year - my only visit to Spain. I went there with an ideological wizard named Ed Flynn. Some years before, at our Irish Christian Brothers college in Newfoundland, Flynn had been the subversive prodigy ensconced in the back row of the 1940s classroom surreptitiously devouring Nietzsche or Baudelaire or doodling with a stubby pencil on a theme of Japanese soldiers as 'brave dwarfs' (the term came from another of his shadowy favourites, Robinson Jeffers). All this while the rest of us struggled with Latin verbs or catechism or discharged spitballs at one another. By the time he had emerged from the modest schooling facilities available in what then was 'Britain's Oldest Colony', Flynn had read, it seems, everything - certainly (and heaven knows how he had laid hand on them) spaniards like Unamuno and Ortega and foreign testaments about Civil War Spain ranging from Homage to Catalonia to Flowering Rifle. A few years later, in the Spanish segments of his late-night talkathons, Flynn was enthusing over Bunuel and an English novel which, he insisted, cut through a lot of Thirties gush about Spain, The Revenge for Love.

So it was fitting that in December 1954 it was with this old classmate I took the jolting daylong train trip, peasant class on bare wooden seats, across the Pyrenees from Perpignan to Barcelona. Once cast up in the capital of Catalonia, we gaped not only at ...


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