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More Tales from the Saragossa Manuscript,"" earlier sections of which appeared in 1960, the work of a Polish count of the eighteenth century, this involved novel is seemingly derived from the Renaissance picaresque romances. The narrator is a Senor Alfonso, who, in sixteenth century Spain, kept a diary of a sixty-six day journey that altered the course of his life. This concerns Alfonso's encounter with a subterranean kingdom and its nefarious political machinations. Within this story are many others with no organic relationship to the main plot, or to each other. These long tales are rife with the Renaissance accoutrements of false identities, long-winded speeches, swords and sandals, transports of passion, and a set of extravagant characters: a sheik, a madman, a Cabalist, a geometer, a gypsy, and the Wandering Jew, among others. The gypsy's stories, which dominate the book, develop one out of the other ""like Chinese boxes that in certain cases can be divided endlessly."" The sense of frustration in trying to sort out all these threads is unrelieved by any enjoyment of the felicitous language found in the original sixteenth century romances. If it all seems, as it does to Velasquez the geometer, an ""incomprehensible hodgepodge,"" that is irrelevant and evidently beside the point. Curiosity, and a delight in the intrigues and digressions may keep a few readers happy, but this Spanish novelty is not everyone's glass of sangria.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1966
Publisher: Orion