General franco

Spain’s growing culture war over General Franco

There are hundreds of mass graves dotted around the Spanish countryside. In roadside ditches, down hillside gullies, dumped in pits and down disused wells lie thousands of bodies: civilians murdered in cold blood by Franco’s death squads during the civil war that convulsed Spain between 1936 and 1939. Over the nearly forty years of Franco’s dictatorship, few spoke of what had happened during the war; silence and selective amnesia were safer. And even when Franco died in 1975, the overriding priority was the transition to democracy. The old Francoist establishment indicated that it would make way for the new era — provided that there was no digging up of the

Haunted by the past: Last Days in Cleaver Square, by Patrick McGrath, reviewed

At the risk of encroaching on Spectator Competition territory, what is the least surprising thing for any given narrator in a particular author’s work to say? (For one of Irvine Welsh’s, a single word of four letters might be enough.) In the case of Patrick McGrath, I’d suggest, the answer comes on page 55 of his new novel: ‘I confess I feel that my sanity is under threat.’ McGrath famously grew up in the grounds of Broadmoor, where his father was the medical superintendent, and his consequent lifelong interest in psychiatry is reflected in pretty much all of his fiction. As a rule, if you’re a McGrath protagonist, you’re likely