By Victor Serge
Birth of Our Power is an epic novel set in Spain, France, and Russia through the heady innovative years 1917–1919. Serge’s story starts off within the spring of 1917, the 3rd 12 months of mass slaughter within the blood-and-rain-soaked trenches of global struggle I, while the flames of revolution all at once erupt in Russia and Spain. even supposing the Spanish rebellion finally fizzles, in Russia the staff, peasants, and customary infantrymen may be able to take energy and carry it. Serge’s “tale of 2 towns” is constituted of the competition among Barcelona, the town “we” couldn't take, and Petrograd, the ravenous, beleaguered capital of the Russian Revolution besieged through counter-revolutionary Whites. among the romanticism of radicalized employees awakening to their very own strength in a sun-drenched Spanish city to the awful fact of staff clinging to energy in Russia’s darkish, frozen innovative outpost. the unconventional was once composed a decade after the revolution in Leningrad, the place Serge used to be dwelling in semicaptivity due to his declared competition to Stalin’s dictatorship over the revolution.
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Additional resources for Birth of Our Power
And it is only through passing references to the War in Europe that we are able to place the events there historically. For most readers, the phrase ‘Spanish Revolution’ brings to mind the 1936–39 Civil War. But in fact the Spanish revolutionary tradition, with all its passion and brutality, goes back much further, to Napoleonic times (think of Goya’s Disasters of War). Throughout the nineteenth century, repeated attempts to establish liberal government in Spain resulted only in bloody fusillades and paper reforms.
The confused day of street fighting, described in Chapter 9, took place on July 19, 1917. It was followed by a full-scale insurrection in August. Neutral Spain had been trading profitably with both sides in World War I, but the ancient political forms had not kept pace with the rapidly developing economy. Both the liberal parliamentarians and the anarchistic workers felt that the time had come to put forward their demands. The revolt failed because the liberals abandoned their alliance with the workers at the last minute, leaving them to face the government alone, and because the Barcelona workers were so poorly organized.
The secret citadel underneath lends an evil aspect to the rock, which, between the limpid blue of the sky, the deeper blue of the sea, the green meadows of the Llobregat and the city, resembles a strange primordial gem … Hard, powerful, upheaval arrested in stone, affirmed since the beginning of time … stubborn plants gripping, hugging the granite, and rooting into its crevices … trees whose obdurate roots have inexorably-cracked the stone and, having split it, now serve to bind it … sharp angles dominating the mountain, set in relief or faceted by the play of sunlight … We would have loved this rock—which seems at times to protect the city, rising up in the evening, a promontory over the sea (like an outpost of Europe stretching toward tropical lands bathed in oceans one imagines as implacably blue)—this rock from which one can see to infinity … We would have loved it had it not been for those hidden ramparts, those old cannons with their carriages trained low on the city, that mast with its mocking flag, those silent sentries with their olive-drab masks posted at every corner.