Juan the Landless by Juan Goytisolo ; Translated From the Spanish by Helen R. Lane
New York : Viking Press, 1977. First American Edition. Stated "First published in 1977 by The Viking Press" on the copyright page. Hardcover. 268 pages ; 22 cm. $10.00 dust jacket. Blind stamp on half title page. Very good + copy, with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.
Juan the landless
A novel by Juan Goytisolo
Translated by Helen R. Lane With this extraordinary novel, Juan Goytisolo brings to a stunning conclusion the trilogy on which he has been working for the past decade, of which his Marks of Identity and Count Julian form the first two parts. It is a work of fiction that defies easy description, in that the familiar formulas of plot and character have been bypassed. Like its predecessor Count Julian, Juan the landless is, as Carlos Fuentes noted of the earlier work, "a landmark novel of Spanish literature." If Count Julian focused on the author's Spain and constitutes perhaps the most "terrible attack against the oppressive forces of a nation" that a native son has ever penned, the new novel transcends the geographical limitations formerly imposed and moves back and forth in time and space: Juan is not only landless but timeless.
Like so many of Goytisolo's heroes, Juan is an exile: and "exile has turned you into a completely different being, who has nothing to do with the one your countrymen once knew: their law is no longer your law: their justice is no longer your justice: no one awaits you in Ithaca: as anonymous as any passing stranger, you will visit your own dwelling and dogs will bark at your heels—" From this position above the melee, Juan views the festering world, beyond it, like the Master of the Plantation on High, yet still of it, the suffering, not unsinful son. If Count Julian is, as Fuentes noted, "a shout from the heart and belly," Juan the landless is more a cry af pain. The searing prose, the rebel's proud spirit, the imagery and ironic humor reminiscent at times of Sade and Genet, the mordant eroticism—all are here present, even more masterfully blended than in the earlier works.
"It is natural," noted V. S. Pritchett in The New Yorker, "that Goytisolo should immediately bring Joyce, Malcolm Lowry, Beckett, and even Nabokov to mind." If the comparisons seem at first glance exaggerated, it is becoming increasingly clear that, with the appearance of each new novel, Goytisolo, in his concerns as in his mastery of craft and language, is fully worthy to be considered among the major innovators of our time.
About the author:
Juan Goytisolo was born in Barcelona in 1931,' and his early memories are of the searing Civil War. He studied af the universities of Madrid and Barcelona, but in 1957, when it became obvious that Franco's repressive regime would not tolerate free expression, he left and remained an exile for almost twenty years, over which period he published seven novels and two works of nonfiction—all banned in Spain. Since Franco's death he has seen several of his repressed works published in Spain, and recently had the ironic distinction of seeing two of his novels on the Spanish best-seller lists at the same time.
About the translator:
Helen R. Lane translates with equal ease and brilliance from the Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Over the past several years she has won virtually every major prize awarded translators, including the prestigious P.E.N. Prize, which she won in 1975 for her translation of Goytisolo's Count Julian.
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