Ramon J. Sender's 'Cronica Del Alba'
Cronica del alba is a novel by Sender with a Civil War background, like the popular Requiem por un campesino espanol, also in this series. The author evokes his childhood in rural Aragon at the beginning of the twentieth century in a book which has a charm and something of the character of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The young Pepe fights to believe in himself as a hero in the face of a world, and a father bent on putting him down. He is supported by his girlfriend, Valentina, who believes in him implicitly and often ends up in as much trouble as him. But there is something more here than scrapes and mischief-making. It is written by an older and disillusioned Pepe who has known real heroism and is now detained in a prison camp for Spanish Civil War refugees in southern France. The novel raises challenging questions about the loss of hope, how people cope with disillusionment, and the place of writing in that process. Moreover, since the novel reflects Sender's own childhood it sheds light on the complex relationship of fact and fiction in autobiographical novels.