Peace After War, Vol. I
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By José María Gironella
Peace After War advances the chronicle of the Spanish Civil War begun in The Cypresses Believe in God and One Million Dead. Covering only the immediate postwar years and set almost exclusively in Gerona, the novel once again follows the Alvear family and their various friends and enemies, compatriots and competitors as they contend with the consequences of their bloody national conflict. Daily life in Spain quickly finds that the worst effect of war is its disruptive influence on a people’s capacity to love “the minutiae of life and nature.” The horrific early days of the Second World War throw this effect into even sharper relief. Thus the will to power confronts the Golden Rule, liberty wrestles with despotism, and charity and hope contest corruption and doubt—all the while the chains of totalitarianism encroach upon the sovereignty of the individual man, woman, and child.
Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.… And a man’s enemies shall be they of his own household. (The Gospel of Matthew)
In plumbing the virtues and defects of the Spanish people and nation in the time of their most terrible personal turmoil, Peace After War sheds light on the character of humanity as a whole and offers a stark reminder of the sobering fact that the absence of war is not the same as peace, and an armistice can still be a fractious, unforgiving affair.
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José María Gironella (1917–2003) was a Spanish novelist, born in the Catalonian province of Gerona. He is best known for his historical novel, The Cypresses Believe in God, for which he won the National Prize for Literature. His other works include One Million Dead and Peace After War, which continue the story begun with The Cypresses Believe in God, and Where the Soil Was Shallow, his debut novel for which he won the Nadal Prize.