MARKS OF IDENTITY by Juan Goytisolo


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This Spanish writer has converted the vague dis-ease with mouldering European youth of his earlier novels, into a sweet-sour, middle-aged perspective on the decay of passion in one life which is a product and soul of Spain. An expatriate in France, Alvaro contemplates his own family history and the ""Twenty-Five Years of Peace"" in the ""grim and sleepy country of thirty-odd million non-uniformed police."" Impelled by a mid-life restlessness to reconstruct and synthesize, Alvaro goes back over the useless gestures of his upper caste family, the abortions of his own childhood dedications, to the years of the Revolution--the murder of his father and the murder of an uncle caught with his gourmet hoard of little frogs. He records on film the savage slaughter of a bull while remembering the massacre of republican peasants. The drama is ""obsessive and remote."" The trial of a fellow student and a demonstration that failed are matters of cafe conversation in France, where the strength of recently arrived young compatriots drains into dialectic and discussion. Because of ""Family, social class, community, land,"" life could not be anything but ""breaking and dispossession."" At the close, in a visit to Spain, Alvaro on the site of the death of the Revolution, intones, ""blessed be my deviation"" from feverish and ancient ties. Goytisolo tends to overstate with fragmented documentary footage at times, but as a solitary expatriate search, this is a somber and corrosive pilgrimage.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1969
ISBN: 1564784533
Publisher: Grove