English / American Literature / Creative Writing / Spanish / Multiculture / European History
"Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid" by Cynthia Buchanan
A Short Story with Study Guide Essay by the Author
Copyright © 2017 by Cynthia Buchanan Cowley – All Rights Reserved
PART I: SHORT STORY - 1,500 words / headlined by historic photographs
"Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid"
PART II: STUDY GUIDE ESSAY by the author - 1,500 words
"Creative Writing and Hollywood Heroes at War"
Spanish Civil War: The Last Great American Cause (1936-1939)
Literature and its great writers and even its phonies were steeped in the passions of the Spanish Civil War, 1936 to 1939, "the last great American cause," also known as "the dress rehearsal for World War Two."
• New creative writing honoring the Spanish Civil War and its 80th anniversary 2016-2019 appears here as Cynthia Buchanan's short story of 1,500 words, "Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid."
• This tale grew from the cultural history of the Spanish Civil War and serves as both war story and satire of Hollywood and its celebrities.
• Since celebrity worship today engulfs the globe, such a contemporary polemic opens the door for educators at the high school and college level, for institute staffs in the humanities worldwide and cross-departmental programs using this proven literary fiction to innovate curriculum.
• Top tier fiction such as Buchanan's is crucial for the critical thinking behind "studies abroad" programs and Fulbright scholar applicants. Their essays are the caveat and ne plus ultra of the U.S. State Department's program in distinguished cultural exchange.
Meanwhile, the demand globally for multicultural literature in English is vast yet underserved. And whether the category "Latino/multicultural literature" embraces Spain in that label is anyone's choice.
Beyond the Spanish Conquest, the New World and Spanish Colonial civilizations of the sixteenth century, the current short story stretches "Latino literature" to peninsular Spain. The American label "Latino," albeit, is a marketeering term along with the governmental phylum "Hispanic." The parsing of categories is not for the scope of this short story. However, "Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid" implies miscegenation since war and its conquering heroes and villains are international fighters at the core.
• Hispanic heritage means the seminal impact of Spain through the centuries. Spain spreading its culture provides a heartbeat for humanity, the so-called "Spanish genius."
The author's purpose in the dynamic short story is to reveal how Spain marked the lives of foreigners during the Spanish Civil War and not just those defending the legal Republic.
Featured in this new, confident fiction are swashbuckler movie idol Errol Flynn and iconic author Ernest Hemingway, later to win the Nobel Prize that included his novels set in Spain, The Sun Also Rises as well as For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The Spanish Republic was backed by Communist Russia after Spain's revolutionary democratic elections five years earlier. When Spain's exiled General Francisco Franco and his rightwing co-conspirators led a military uprising in 1936 to overthrow the libertarian government, the Civil War erupted.
Franco's bloody invasion of Spain had used his crack troops from colonial Spanish Morocco to spearhead the coup d'état that exploded as holocaust. Inside three years the generalísimo claimed victory thanks to his Axis partners Hitler and Mussolini, who supplied troops, weapons and aircraft that won Franco's war for his Nationalist crusade.
• The slaughter of Spanish Republicans by North African Muslim troops under Franco is a horror to consider.
• After the war when despot Franco was Chief of State and "El Caudillo de España por la gracia de Dios," he continued his violent repression and executions as a totalitarian rule of thumb.
"Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid" set in 1937 touches on American history as it overlaps events in Spain. The volunteer Abraham Lincoln Brigade consisted of two separate battalions recruited by the International Communist Party to defend Spanish democracy. U.S. volunteers battled alongside those from dozens of countries, volunteers that rushed to the bleeding Republic and were known collectively as the proud International Brigades until the war's realpolitik slammed in with its miseries.
• As trenchermen in the Jarama Valley the Americans entered combat at the Battle of Madrid.
• This short story as American literature about European warfare urges the reader to consider war, war correspondents and sacrifice and courage of soldiers versus Hollywood's version of heroes.
In "thinking outside the box" the reader ponders movie star Errol Flynn and how celebrities subvert their public image by moral failure and transgressions of the law in private life. Flynn's actual turpitude (not to mention his drug use) included his sex with underage girls. He was to suffer in court for that appetite.
However, with the fictional Flynn in Spain we see that within moments of his return to Madrid after his trip to the Jarama battlefront, the matinee idol sought out a house of prostitution. That quest was, in truth, based on the actor's priapic life the day he posed as a "war correspondent" during the Spanish Civil War.
In Hollywood, this star of "Dawn Patrol" had finagled a press pass for Spain, to report on the Republic's defense of Madrid against Spanish Fascist general Franco encircling the capitol in a pincer strategy. Errol Flynn also pledged medicines for the International Brigades and to "build a hospital for the Republican Army!" His promise is actual history, documented in Hollywood's support of the Spanish Republic.
Equally factual is that Ernest Hemingway was at the Jarama battlefront many times as war correspondent. When visiting the trenches he was permitted, against the Loyalist government's regulations, to fire a machine gun at the enemy. A witness claims Hemingway "did not stick around for the response."
• Cynthia Buchanan's state-of-the-art fiction proves how creative writing plays with the theme of valor versus cowardice and show-boating versus honor and integrity.
• The fact is, hundreds of U.S. volunteers to the legendary Abraham Lincoln Brigade sacrificed their lives at the Battle of Jarama and on other Loyalist fronts.
• The story's portrait of Communist advisers to the Republican Army as leaders that created political chaos is true and that chaos sent International Brigades into combat as "cannon fodder."
Six months after the fall of the Spanish Republic in 1939, Hitler's conquests in Europe kicked in with the invasion of Poland. The Third Reich's new Nazi war machine had been tested in Spain, and for this reason its Civil War is regarded as "the dress rehearsal for World War II."
• Fighting the tyranny of Franco and Hitler, International Brigades were "premature anti-Fascists."
As a dictator for nearly forty years Franco--last of the Axis potentates--left a vile and cruel legacy that included thousands of unmarked mass graves discovered recently. Spain's Chief of State died in 1975 but only now is declared guilty of "crimes against humanity," in the same vein as Adolf Hitler.
• The "holy war" or "jihad" aspect of the Spanish Civil War and its Moorish soldiers as the Army of Africa invading Spain prompts comparisons with current Islamic terrorism and war refugees.
• The Spanish protectorate of Morocco lies but twenty miles across the Mediterranean from southern Spain and upon its tip is the United Kingdom's crown colony Rock of Gibraltar.
Errol Flynn, born in Australia on the island of Tasmania, as a resident of Hollywood, became a naturalized U.S. citizen a few years after the Spanish Civil War. This short fiction offers diversity and background as geography and geopolitics combined with military and government threads from the Spanish Civil War, whereas the story's sophistication as satire laced with darkly comic threads makes "Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid" a natural for comparing pop culture.
• Use this creative writing model for its descriptive language, theme, plot, character and dialogue.
• The mock "screenplay" format highlights in the manuscript are for satire and actual instruction.
Author Cynthia Buchanan was awarded a Fulbright grant in Creative Writing under the U.S. State Department to live in Spain. The Civil War and the Battle of Jarama is one of her fields of expertise as is Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In Spain, her hands-on knowledge of the Battle of Jarama was inspired when she visited the old trenches, where "Yankee" blood was shed to defend human liberty.
In the U.S. she interviewed veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and today her archives include her collection of correspondence from Lincoln veterans, interviews and exchanges with scholars in Spain.
Because the Spanish Republic was backed by Russian Communism, most Lincoln Brigade veterans were accused of "anti-Americanism" after they returned to the US in 1938. After World War II then came the "witch hunts" for U.S. Communists, the Congressional "round-up" for hearings under Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee that pursued veterans of the Lincoln Brigade. Also persecuted and blacklisted were scores of Hollywood writers, actors, directors and filmmakers who had so passionately supported the Spanish Republic.
The Spanish Civil War left more than a million dead and half a million Spanish Republicans in exile. Now this imaginative narrative "Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid" featuring celebrities as buffoons offers a challenging literary lens through which to examine that tragic war in Spain, one of the most devastating conflagrations in twentieth-century history.
"Hemingway & Flynn Do Madrid" as creative historical fiction, though absurdist and satirical, honors the Battle of Madrid and the sacrifices at the Jarama Valley in 1937.
Cynthia Buchanan is represented by Attorney Emilio B. Nicolas at Jackson Walker L.L.P. www.jw.com
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BIO / CYNTHIA BUCHANAN - 2017
Novelist and playwright Cynthia Buchanan earned an M.A. in Creative Writing in English from the University of the Americas in Mexico and was awarded a Fulbright grant in Creative Writing in Spain, under the U.S. State Department. After many years in New York as a professional writer, she returned to her roots in the Spanish Southwest.
She now lives in Texas, where she has completed several short stories, a new play and two new novels. Cowgirl Polygamy is set in Arizona, while The Scarlet Spaniard follows an Andalusian guerrilla after the Spanish Civil War. Currently, she's at work on a bicultural Latino graphic novel, Aztec Eagles of World War II: Mexico's Heroes, America's Brothers (www.aztecagles.net) and as writer/producer developing it as a documentary film package with Hans-Martin Liebing, Ph.D.
Her fiction, nonfiction and literary criticism has been published widely, from The New York Times, The Washington Post and Newsweek to such diverse literary quarterlies as Antaeus, Harvard Advocate, Cornell Review and Transatlantic Review.
Buchanan's first novel Maiden burst upon the literary scene in 1972, published to sensational reviews. Critics celebrated it as a "brilliant comic satire" and its author as a superb storyteller, "a powerful voice" whose prose style was stunning. Maiden was called "hilarious" and powerful "social satire," a penetrating and original commentary on the deadly life of the American dream. Its heroine on her mythic quest is considered one of the great heroines in contemporary literature and Maiden remains today one of the most highly reviewed first novels in publishing history.
Listed among "best" titles by The New York Times Book Review and the American Library Association, the book was acclaimed by the Encyclopedia Britannica as a premier novel that compared with the works of Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath. Maiden was taught as an American classic at Harvard, Dartmouth, New York University, University of California at Los Angles and at Iowa Writers' Workshop, among others.
Columbia Pictures bought Maiden film rights through an option by Lily Tomlin, who then commissioned Buchanan to write for her. Buchanan created such Tomlin characters as "Sister Boogie Woman," "Crystal the Quadriplegic" and "Susie Sorority" for the comedienne's tours and Broadway show. As well, Lily Tomlin starred in Buchanan's play at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., under a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for new American playwrights.
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