Man’s Hope

André Malraux, Man’s Hope
translated by Stuart Gilbert and Alastair Macdonald
(New York: Random House, 1938)
First published: 1937

The Central Exchange at the Northern Railway Terminus rang up the various stations along the line. […] With the exception of Navarre—the line from which had been cut—the replies had been uniform. Either the Government had the situation well in hand, or a Workers’ Committee had taken charge of the city. But now a change was coming over the dialogues.
‘Is that Huesca?’
‘Who’s speaking?’
‘The Workers’ Committee, Madrid.’
‘Not for long, you swine! Arriba España!
‘Hullo, Avila? How’s thing at your end? North Madrid Station speaking.’
‘The hell it is, you bastards! Viva el Cristo Rey!
‘See you soon, Salud!
An urgent message came through to Ramos.
The Northern lines, it seemed, were converging on Saragossa, Burgos and Valladolid.

Based upon the writer’s involvement as an anti-fascist militant, Man’s Hope, or Days of Hope in a later translation, recounts the main events towards the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, from Franco’s military putsch on 18 July 1936 to the battle of Guadalajara in March 1937 won by the Republicans. The novel is focused upon the Republican camp, its organization and development from various left-wing tendencies in the country, as well as the external support it receives. The selected fragment occurs at the very beginning, which is famously cast as a quick series of phone call exchanges across the country as it is falling into the hands of the Nationalists.

by Laurent Milesi