Jesús A. Martínez Martín, ed. Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975

Jesús A. Martínez Martín (ed.). Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975. Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2015. 997p., ill. ISBN 9788415963554. EUR 42.00 (hardback).

Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975 is the second volume of the history of publishing in Spain edited by Jesús A. Martínez Martín. The first volume was published in 2001 by the same publisher, and covered the period from 1836 to just before when the Spanish Civil War began in 1936. However, as the editor notes in his introduction, the scope of this second volume is much more ambitious than that of the first, despite sharing the same methods and covering a much shorter period, the 36 years of Franco’s dictatorship. Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975 goes far beyond a mere descriptive history of the book. The volume considers the political, economic and social factors in publishing, and the role that publishing, books and reading played in Spanish social and cultural environments from 1939 to 1975.

The volume is composed of thirty-two articles divided into three large sections: “La politica del libro, el estado y la edición” [book policy, state and publishing], “La economía del libro. La industria editorial” [book economics and the publishing industry], and “La cultura del libro. Los géneros y la especialización editorial. Los públicos lectores” [book culture, genres, publishing specialization and readers]. Without simply making a mere list, it is difficult, if not impossible, to summarize in a few lines the many topics and aspects that this work studies: censorship, intellectual property, large and small publishing houses, authors, agents, commercial strategies, exiled publishers, distribution networks, publisher’s dissent and modernity, international markets, libraries, library policies, readers and books in prisons, official publications and presses, mass readers, official discourse, and a wide range of different publishing products (schoolbooks, paperbacks, comics, newspapers, magazines, literary editions, illustrated books, bestsellers, books for children and young adults, women’s magazines, Catholic books, religious magazines, academic books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, library catalogues, bibliophilia, etc.).

It is also difficult to make objections about this work. Chapters could have been ordered differently, some aspects of Spanish publishing might have been missed, and some chapters could have been longer and some shorter, but none of these possible objections detracts from the volume’s achievements. The only quibble about this volume or, perhaps better, this collection, is the surprising chronologic gap between 1936 and 1939 already noted by some scholars. Martínez Martín explains the reasons behind this decision in his introduction to the volume and argues that scattered references to those years can be found in some articles of both volumes. He also explains that the Spanish Second Republic and national publishing coexisted between 1936 and 1939. It is well known that historical periods are not independent compartments and that some dynamics of the Second Republic did not disappear in 1939 nor some of the dictatorship in 1975. I think, however, that overlooking the Spanish Civil War and reducing it to a few references in some articles pays a rather poor tribute to those three relevant years. Certainly, republican and national publications coexisted between those years, but it is also certain that both kinds of publications played important roles in their respective areas of influence.

Despite this criticism, it should be noted that Historia de la edición en España 1939-1975 marks a milestone in the history of publishing in Spain. The volume is highly recommended both to scholars and to anyone interested in the recent history of Spain. This monumental work opens, in an enjoyable manner, a myriad of new fields of research about how editorial practices changed and evolved in Spain during Franco’s dictatorship, and allows one to observe how publishing was reflecting the contradictions of the regime and a gradual cultural change. The pioneering work of studying the multifaceted publishing history of Franco’s regime, the assembling in a single volume of important and original contributions, the valuable information provided, the often unpublished primary sources mentioned and the numerous lines of research that the articles open make this book highly commendable.

Benito Rial Costas
Asociación Española de Bibliografía