Rodoreda (1908-1983) is termed by translator Rosenthal, with fierce enthusiasm, ""the greatest contemporary Catalan novelist and possibly the best Mediterranean woman author since Sappho""; she wrote novels, the best known of which is The Time of the Doves, as well as stories. And this collection, published in Spain in 1967, exhibits remarkable range. ""That Wall, That Mimosa""--in which a romance triggers an allergy and an allergy recalls a romance--nearly parodies Proust yet is lovely and evocative rather than smirky. ""Pain"" is a portrait of pure urban anxiety: a woman can't bear the wait for a visit from the man who may or may not become her lover. ""The Hen"" is a bitter tale of rural substitution and violence: a hen is first turned into a pet, then into a stand-in for a wife. But, while Rodoreda's psychological studies are effective, her surrealism is what is most indelible here, reminiscent of Bruno Schulz's high-flying mastery--in tales of metamorphosis, in the title story of a shipwrecked sailor's life inside a whale (which he gnaws on for nourishment), and in the nocturnal visits of ""The Gentleman and the Moon."" (""On the moon, nothing the first few days. Lots of light, that's for sure, because the moonlight on earth is very different from the moonlight on the moon. On the earth the moonlight's spread out, while on the moon it's all packed together. The night's huge paws hold it down, and we see only what escapes from between the fingers."") A compelling stylist, well translated--with passages of stunning imagery in virtually every story.