REALMS OF STRIFE: The Memoirs of Juan Goytisolo 1957-1982 by Juan Goytisolo

REALMS OF STRIFE: The Memoirs of Juan Goytisolo 1957-1982

Email this review


A sequel to Forbidden Territory (1988) that, like his first autobiographical memoir, is a frank and honest portrait of the Spanish novelist (best known for experimental work such as Landscapes After the Battle and Makbara) and his age. Goytisolo knew writers ranging from Sartre to Faulkner and was politically involved in left. wing intrigue for years. At the end of Forbidden Territory, Goytisolo had left France-repressed Spain for Paris, and this volume picks up there--in a personal, cultural, and political memoir, with the various levels mixing together frequently. Many readers will be drawn to the brief portraits of figures ranging from Sartre and Camus to Duras (with ""the deliberate high drama she brings to the pettiest discussion"") and Hemingway. The guiding literary spirit here, however, is Genet, who is trying to create not a homosexual ""ghetto"" but ""an autonomous world, a language, a voice."" Goytisolo is ambivalent about his own sexuality until late in the book, and much of the narrative concerns his longtime relationship with and eventual marriage to Monique, herself active in writing and publishing. In order to ""avoid humdrum bourgeois existence,"" the two try to live as ""an open, mobile, undomesticated couple,"" but Goytisolo comes to discover that ""we are worse, much worse, than we suppose."" Ironically, they marry only after he admits his homosexuality to her. He also traces how he let his political judgments interfere with his literary ones, and he is as hard on his fellow writers as on himself: ""while the number of clowns proliferate, the number of authors who take their work seriously, instead of lovingly putting on airs, gems to be in steady decline."" A bright personal vision of what literature can be--and of why it often fails to reach such an ideal.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1990
Publisher: North Point