Understanding Juan Goytisolo
One of the best-known novelists of his generation both in and outside Spain, Juan Goytisolo has written novels, short stories, and essays that number among the greatest achievements of contemporary Spanish literature. On par with the major novelists of Latin America, Goytisolo produces works so original in presentation and so acerbic in tone that - despite the international acclaim that heralds such texts as John the Landless and Don Julian - many readers still find them enigmatic and challenging. In a volume that sets both Goytisolo and his works in their cultural and literary context, Randolph D. Pope provides a much-needed guide to the demanding texts and polemical ideas of this modern master. Beginning with the writer's childhood, Pope offers an integrated and compelling reading of Goytisolo's world. He assesses the impact of his mother's death during a Civil War bombing raid, his father's ill health and repeated business failures, his childhood molestation by a relative, his education, and his conflicted feelings about publicly admitting his homosexuality. Pope also describes the two Spains - one stifled by censorship and the other liberated by democracy - reflected in Goytisolo's work. Pope reviews Goytisolo's major works, including two recent novels, The Virtues of the Solitary Bird and Quarantine. He gives explicit instructions on how to read them, explaining the prominent place of nomadism, mysticism, intertextuality, montage, and fragmentation. From the early realist novels to the recent postmodern volumes, Pope describes Goytisolo's literature as the result of a committed struggle for freedom - from the complacent social class in which he grew up, from Franco's dictatorship, from orthodoxy in all its forms, from ignorance and indifference. Complex yet comprehensible, Goytisolo emerges from Pope's authoritative study as one of the most exciting writers of twentieth-century Europe.
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