Juan Goytisolo

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Juan Goytisolo (Spain, 1931)

"Duelo en el Paraiso" (1955)

synopsis forthcoming

"Senas de Identidad/ Marks of Identity" (1966)

synopsis forthcoming

"Reivindicacio del Conde Don Julian" (1970) +

synopsis forthcoming

"Juan Sin Tierra/ Juan the Landless " (1975) ++ is the third part of the trilogy that began with Marks of Identity (1966) and continued with Count Julian (1970). The book was originally a literary attack on traditional Spain, but the novel was later reworked and streamlined for the English version. The "story" is largely told via psychological associations, blurring the line between fiction and poetry. The odyssey of the protagonist paint a microcosm of the evil that has cursed Spain over the centuries.

The first chapter, that opens in a Cuban sugar plantation, is written in lower case with colon-only punctuatioa not so much as a Joyce-ian stream of consciousness but as a form of sloppy scribbling that in reality employs a sophisticated poetic language. In the plantation, founded by the Spanish great-grandfather (mirroring the real-life story of Goytisolo's own great-grandfather), the blacks are invited to the presentation of a new invention that is going to change the world: the first flushing toilet. The chaplain, Father Vosk, gives a sermon about how the blacks are animals that engaged in lewd acts. Marita is the "white virgin" who lives in the mansion with her Papa, the master of the plantation, who is concerned that the black slaves perform the rites like good Christians. Marita spies the blacks from the telescope of Master Jorge and sees them doing something strange. Father Vosk refuses to explain. When she insists, he tells her in Latin that they are performing all sorts of sexual acts. Don Agustin is the foreman of the sugar plantation who oversees all the details and accounting. Adelaida and Fermina are the other adolescent girls of the mansion engaged in activities such as reciting poetry and playing classical music. Someone is the great-grandchild of the plantation boss and of one of his black slaves. Chango the pagan god of the slaves, son of the slave woman Yemaya. The birth of the bastard mulatto is described as mirroring the birth of Jesus, like the arrival of the child god.
In the second chapter the protagonist is addressed as "you" and lives through the ordeals of World War I in the Middle East. He's an exiled Spaniard who fights the blind syphilid Ebeh for tourists. There's a couple and there will be a baby. The action moves to New York: a reptilian fauna is growing in the sewers of Manhattan, viewed as a sort of tropical lagoon, feeding on its own waste, and one day will invade the skyscrapers through their plumbing pipes. His vision includes the Hollywood myth of King Kong.
The protagonist travels from Turkey to Morocco. He dreams of being a bandit who meets a British colonel, Vosk. He things of himself as a reincarnation of Chango, the god of fire. He dreams of Ebeh, a mighty and brutal warrior at the service of Lawrence of Arabia (El-Orens) during the conquest of Syria.
He pays tribute to Christian missionary Charles de Foucauld, also a translator of Tuareg poetry, martyred in the Sahara during World War I, whose death he blames on Ebeh. He meditates on the tomb of Ibn Turmeda, originally a Spanish friar (Anselm Turmeda) who converted to Islam (Abd-Allah at-Tarjuman) and is now buried in Tunisia.
The fourth book travels back in time to the time of the Reconquista and the Inquisition, as if in search of the original sin, but told from the viewpoint of a member of the Inquisition who also recounts how one of the heretics burned at the stakes predicted the advent of a giant gorilla, King Kong. In fact the speaker now sounds like the King of Spain himself, talking against the vicious idea of democracy and then adveritising with much pomp the scientific progress of his country (boasting of a pioneer of aviation who tried to fly from a clocktower but plunged to his death).
In the sixth book the protagonist, back in Europe, meets doctor Vosk who takes him to a panel in which his writing is criticized and then offers a prescription for fixing his psychological problems. The seventh book is only a meditation on writing, especially writing in a foreign language, and ends with a few lines in Arabic.

"Makhara" (1980)

synopsis forthcoming

"Las Virtudes Del Pajaro Solitario" (1988) +

synopsis forthcoming
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