It is one of Orwell’s most famous work; its popularity was certainly due to its subject: the Spanish Civil War.
It is a first person account, half-way between fiction and biographical essay, that describes affectionately and critically Spain at that time.
Orwell felt as a moral duty to fight on the republican side in the Spanish Civil War.
He saw the manipulation of socialists who had come there from all over Europe.
Revolution in Barcelona
There Orwell describes what Barcelona looked like when he first saw it in December 1936: it was shocking.
The passage brings out both Orwell’s sympathy with the cause of the revolution in Spain and his detachment as a writer and political thinker.
The working class was in command and all people treat everyone as their equals. Servile and even ceremonial forms of speech had temporarily disappeared; nobody said “Senor” or “Don”, everyone said “Salud” instead of “Buenos Dias”. Every shop, cafè and motor-car had been collectivized (it becames public property, it belonged to the state or community). Everyone wore working-class clothes or blue overalls or some variant of the militia uniform.
In some ways Orwell didn’t like it , but he recognized it as a state of affairs worth fighting for.
He believed that it was a worker’s State and didn’t realize that great numbers of bourgeois were simply keeping a low profile.