JAVIER CERCAS ANATOMIA DE UN INSTANTE PDF

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Shelves: nonfiction , favorites , hispanic , history Only two of the books I read this year made it to my favorites list, and this was one of them. Anatomy of a Moment is difficult to get into, but well worth the diligence to persist. It is a gradual pealing away of first the surface version, the iconic televised pictures of Adolfo Suarez, General Only two of the books I read this year made it to my favorites list, and this was one of them. It is a gradual pealing away of first the surface version, the iconic televised pictures of Adolfo Suarez, General Manuel Gutierrez Mellado, and Santiago Carillo facing the army invaders while the deputies drop to the ground to protect themselves.

In one sense this is a book of semiotics. Cercas asks himself: What does the gesture of Adolfo Suarez mean, as he refuses to dive for cover? The entire book uses this question as a touchstone, each section starting with a flashback to that scene, which was captured on film and replayed thousands of times on television. Other sections unravel the intrigue of the plotters or follow the event of February 23 itself. The book is also an eloquent endorsement of the path Spain took to moving on from Francoism.

There was an explicit agreement that there would be no retribution for the brutality of Francoism, that Spain would look forward. But Cercas makes it very clear that not taking vengeance did not mean forgetting.

This not forgetting could be unfortunate, as in the case of the military generals who thought Squarez had tricked the country into actually leaving the substance of Francoism behind, when they thought he was only going to remove the trappings. Or it could be the salvation of democracy, as the men who resisted the coup attempt remembered Francoism and decided they would defend the young democracy with their lives if needed.

In fact most of the actual plotters were aiming a a return to military-backed dictatorship. The story becomes epic poetry with these devices. Cercas is a novelist, not a historian. So he spent years doing more research and interviews, ending up with this non-fiction history and analysis.

The repetitions and the gradual addition of more players, more background, and more complexity make it possible for a non-Spaniard to follow the story and to become as fascinated by it as one would by a novel. The most interesting men are the three protagonists who stay upright in the Cortes: Suarez a former falangist turned forger of Democracy , Carillo lifelong Communist who kept his party in check to help Suarez secure the end of Francoism , and Gutierrez Mellado, a general who became an unlikely but critical backer of Suarez along his difficult path.

Interestingly, Cercas holds back the full biography of Suarez until the very end of the book, so that someone not familiar with Spanish politics has only his actions near the time of the coup to work with in puzzling out the meaning that Cercas seeks.

This actually works very well, as one can consider all the possible meanings of his keeping upright on February 23 as Cercas presents them, rather than going into the book with a preconceived notion of his motiviations.

Cercas foundation as a novelist also shows in the writing that is more than history, that makes every sentence artful and constructed on several levels. In past years I read many mysteries that were either set during the years of Franco, or involved people settling scores from those years. At the very end of the book, Cercas takes recent leftist critics of Suarez to task, arguing that what he accomplished under the circumstances was truly remarkable.

And that one of the strengths of the democracy he forged was that it was not a frozen structure but one that could evolve into something better over time.

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