Jonathan Blitzer

  • The Devil’s Backbone

    Last summer I was having coffee with a Spanish writer at a café in an upscale Madrid neighborhood just off the bustling Avenida Concha Espina. The thoroughfare is named after an insignificant twentieth-century author who supported Francisco Franco. As my colleague explained with a slight grimace, civic spaces like these were part of the legacy of Francoism, cosmetic but telling. Middling literati such as Espina are memorialized at well-trafficked hubs, while their more accomplished counterparts who ran afoul of Franco’s regime have had their names consigned to remote side streets.

    The enmities

  • In Hiding: The Life of Manuel Cortés

    At age twenty-seven, in 1957, Ronald Fraser moved to a tiny Spanish pueblo twenty miles west of Malaga to write a novel he called A Hollow Man—a self-deprecation meant to echo Bellow’s Dangling Man, which he admired. The novel never came to fruition, but his residency in the town of Mijas would later provide the background and contacts for the first of his many books about contemporary Spanish history. Manuel Cortés, who was Mijas’s mayor before the war, came out of hiding in 1969 under the amnesty granted to anyone with past “leftist,” or Republican, affiliations. Fraser, who was then back in