Truth—But For Whom?
Spanish Rehearsal. By Arnold Lunn. (Hutchinson,, 10s. 6d.)
Reviewed by MICHAEL DE LA BEDOYERE One can scarcely avoid a feeling of helplessness before a book of this kind. It states the truth about Spain and does so in the telling, human and highly readable way which everyone would expect from the author. But who will read it, and how will they read it?
Those who agree with Mr. Lunn's view will read it, if they are not already too weary of excellent books on the subject. Those who take the opposite view will either refuse to look at it, or treat it as the work of a prejudiced, die-hard mind to be dealt with either in sorrow or anger.
Mr. Lunn seems to hope that his readers will ask themselves, not whether his views are extreme, but whether they are correct. He has always been a little optimistic about the persuasive power of rational argument and of ' the evidence of facts to change men's hearts, though his acceptance in this book of Cardinal Newman's distinction between notional and real assent, the latter inspired by personal experience, seems to indicate a less sanguine view.
One wonders indeed whether the mass of people's opinion about Spain will really change, however strong the evidence, until their whole personal experience approximates to the personal experience of the Spaniards whose story Mr. Lunn tells. The only people who appreciate the truth about Spain are real Catholics at heart and real Communists at heart. The latter know as well as Catholics that Mr. Lunn is speaking the truth, and because of this they arc all the more intent on smashing the ideals of Christian Europe so magnificently expressed and defended on this battlefield. Others are governed by prejudices : the prejudices, in the case of some, for law, order and stability; the prejudices, in the case of others, for popular self-determination, progress through emancipation, and against Catholicism.
A boOk on Spain is yet to be written which will go to the roots of the matter. Mr. Lunn is content with describing his impressions of a short stay in Nationalist Spain and with a carefully worked out speech for the defence, with Nationalism on trial. Alas! there is no jury.
Whether spiritually or physically, the truth about Spain will have to be conquered after a long and hard battle with self, the world and the devil. Mere intellect, mere evidence, the mere power of speech and pen remain impotent. even when all are brilliantly exercised by a Lunn.
Yet the task of writing the truth cannot be neglected if we are not to be swamped by lies. For this reason we all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Lunn for undertaking a thankless task.