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Life and Death of a Spanish Town

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Country  United States
Publication date  1937
Pages  427 (first edition)
Author  Elliot Paul
Genre  Modern history
3.8/5 Goodreads

Language  English
Media type  Print (hardcover)
Originally published  1937
Page count  427 (Edition)
Publisher  Random House
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Works by Elliot Paul  Mayhem in B‑flat, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Hugger‑mugger in the Louvre, Linden on the Saugus Branch, Fracas in the foothills

Life and Death of a Spanish Town is a book by Elliot Paul based on his actual experiences of living in the town of Santa Eulària des Riu on the Spanish island of Ibiza, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The book was published in 1937 by Random House Inc, of New York.



The book starts with a list of the Men and Women of Santa Eulalia. The story is then presented in two parts. The first is titled 4000 BC to 1936 AD, with the second part called July 14 to September 15, 1936. There is also a postscript by Paul, dated 14 June 1937.


The book is set in and around the small town of Santa Eulària des Riu, on Ibiza, where Paul had lived since 1931. In the first part of the book Elliot Paul describes the town and many of the characters who live and work there. He details their family lives, their hopes, their aspirations, and their politics. He provides details of the people at work and at play, and describes how he becomes part of the community of the town. Paul also writes of other ex-patriates who have made their homes in and around the town. Part two starts with Paul and his family returning to Ibiza, after some time away. The narrative is set in 1936 in the week leading up to the outbreak of hostilities on Ibiza during the Spanish Civil War and describes the events that eventually lead to Paul, his family and other refugees from the violence, fleeing the island. It tells the story of civil disobedience, collaboration and the violence that split a once-happy community, although the narrative finishes before the tragic turn of events reaches its conclusion. The postscript, written by Paul, dated 14 June 1937, details events following his departure from Ibiza and describes his hopes and fears for his friends on the island and a way of life that he thought would change for ever.


The book was praised by Richard Rees, editor of The Adelphi magazine, who called it, along with George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and Georges Bernanos's Les grands cimetières sous la lune, one of "the only books about Spain that can be said to be written by people with free (i.e. fundamentally honest, if often mistaken ) minds".


Life and Death of a Spanish Town Wikipedia

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