AFTER THE DEATH OF DON JUAN by Sylvia Townsend Warner
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Fable and fantasy -- set in realism -- in a story difficult to define. Miss Warner draws on imagination for an allegory in which the characters, set in 18th century Spain, stand as symbols for the various facets of the conflict in Spain today. But it is not as allegory that one reads; that comes as one looks back, fitting the pieces into place, seeing here the state, here the church, here education, here the capitalist, here the proletariat -- and as setting for it all, a land, gasping for water denied it, while waste goes on, profligacy is supported, and civil warfare looms. The story is a fantastic tale of the disappearance of Don Juan, reported by his servant as carried away into hell, after he has slain the father of a woman scorned. Dona Ana marries -- a means to an end, for through her nit-wit husband, she goes across Andalusia to the sierras of Castile, to see the father of Don Juan. There she acts out her little drama of penitence and love. There the peasants seize upon the opportunity offered to demand the irrigation that had been impossible while Don Saturno's pockets were drained by the profligate son. And there Don Juan reappears, a malignant libertine, ready enough with empty promises. And there the soldiers appear -- and horror descends upon the village. I found it fascinating reading, but it is a book for a carefully chosen audience. Read it for yourself -- pick very special customers -- and win their appreciation.

Publisher: Viking