The Unpublished Writings of Joaquin Maurin, 1896- 1973


Leo M. Dolenski

Title page of ¡Miau! Historia del Gatito Misceláneo , by Joaquin Maurin.

The scope and variety of the Library's manuscript collections were greatly enriched this year by the acquisition of the unpublished writings of the Spanish political and social thinker Joaquin Maurin, given by his son Mario Maurin, Professor of French at Bryn Mawr.

Joaquin Maurin's life unfolded during one of the most turbulent periods of Spain's history, the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Bonansa, Spain, Maurin, like many of his generation, fell under the spell of Marxism, traveled to Moscow where he met Lenin and Trotsky and became a firm supporter of social and political revolution. After imprisonment under the Spanish dictator Primo de Rivera and a period of exile in Paris, he returned to Barcelona where he founded a workers' and peasants' party, Bloque Obrero y Campesino. Disillusioned with Russian and Spanish Communist parties, he went on in 1935 to unite his organization with another anti-Stalinist party, and co-founded POUM (Partido Obrero Unificacion Marxista) celebrated by George Orwell in his Homage to Catalonia. During the ensuing civil war, forced to flee for his life, he was apprehended by the Falangist police and was jailed in a series of prisons ending in Barcelona. Unlike many leaders in the Republican cause, his life was spared due to the intervention of a high-ranking relative in Franco's military. After spending ten years in prison he was released in 1946 and spent the remainder of his life in exile in New York City. There he established the American Literary Agency (ALA) promoting the works of Latin American writers.

During his lifetime, Maurin published a number of books on the history of the Spanish revolution during the Thirties, all of which have been re-published during the '60s and '70s. In addition to these, the Library's collection is made up of his unpublished writiings, mostly historical and autobiographical in nature, and some of which he wrote while in prison. A number of these writings, some short and unfinished, others quite long and complete, cover a wide range of topics: literary, historical, and philosophical. The philosopher Miguel de Unamuno was one of Maurin's keen interests as his papers include hundreds of pages of notes as well as a relatively complete work on the thinker. Another untitled work on modern history presents an overview and an analysis of the major political movements of the twentieth century. A substantial semi-autobiographical novel Algol, heavily corrected, seems to have occupied Maurin for some time.

Included in this collection are two children's stories written by Maurin while in Franco's prison. Both books, one titled ¡Miau! Historia del Gatito Misceláneo and the other El Misterio del Museo del Prado, were written in 1937 and dedicated to his young son Mario, then living in Paris. These children's books are beautifully illustrated with numerous watercolors by a fellow prisoner known only as "Jules."

Though Joaquin Maurin is best remembered as a social and political thinker and activist, his unpublished writings reveal other facets of his life and interests.

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