Marks of Identity by Juan Goytisolo

 

Marks of Identity by Juan Goytisolo

Spanish fiction

Original title – Sensa de Identitad

Translator – Gregory Rabassa

Source – personnel copy

 

“Paper Planes”

[x2]
I fly like paper, get high like planes
If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
If you come around here, I make ’em all day
I get one down in a second if you wait

[x2]
Sometimes I think sitting on trains
Every stop I get to I’m clocking that game
Everyone’s a winner, we’re making our fame
Bona fide hustler making my name

[x4]
All I wanna do is (BANG BANG BANG BANG!)
And (KKKAAAA CHING!)
And take your money

Paper planes by Mia a song about escaping and becoming and Exile was perfect choice for this book .

Well on to book three for spanish lit month and I feel its time to throw a classic into the mix and the second book on this blog by Juan Goytisolo .He is often mentioned as a future Nobel winner , even thou he is quite controversal figure in Spain  as a writer .This is the first in a trilogy of books about exile , Spain and being  Spanish , the other two books Count Julian and Juan the landless I think will be review in the next two Spanish lit months next year and the year after . He is married to Proust cousin and lives in Marrakech , both his siblings are writers as well .

Established in Paris comfortably established in Paris more years of residence in France than in Spain with more french habits than Spanish ones including even the classic on of living with the daughter of a well-known exile a regular resident of the Ville Lumiere  and episodic visitor to his homeland in order to bear parisan witness to aspects of Spanish life …

The opening lines a man who is more French now than Spanish , but Spanish in his heart

Marks of Identity is the story of Alvaro Mendiola . The basic story is he is return in the early 1960’s after spending the years following the Spanish civil war in Exile in France , switzerland and round europe with his wife . He returns to see the world he left behind change , this is the start of the package holiday era and Alvaro see a changed landscape . In which he remembers his past the childhood year before the civil war , his student days what made him and what became his identity is in the roots of his youth .Add to this a number of piece about the history of the time .

While you were passing through the residential and aristocratic section – “modern” or Gaudi mausoleums; the hybrid cross between tomb and a summerhouse – you cast your eyes around for the tomb of the Mendiolas – an exact and prim copy , you remembered , of the pretentious Dumo of Milan .

Alvaro remember in his present , the  places he saw in exile (also it mentions Gaudi as I referenced his build in my review )

Well it all sounds straight forward doesn’t it . But no this  novel is maybe is like that great Spanish church Sagrada familia in Barcelona in fact the city Alvaro is returning to , this book is a mix of styles and even the narrative isn’t straight but more a mosaic of a man’s life-like those great mosaics in the Sagrada . Alvaro’s story has been broken up and is feed to us piece by piece as we build a picture of this man’s life and youth those young years that make the man  and why he choose exile  rather than staying .This is a book about place and the deeper questions that brings to us  , why are we here , where do we belong ? what is our home ? and does time change how we feel about our homeland ? Given that Juan Goytisolo himself has spent most of his life in exile from Spain in Paris , which is the main place Alvaro spends his exile .

Have you a favourite book about exiles ?

 

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MarinaSofia
    Jul 09, 2015 @ 13:09:54

    I’m naturally quite drawn to literture in exile, so thank you for drawing my attention to this. Ovid’s poetry and letters from exile were an eye-opener to me: he complained about everything, particularly those barbaric Thracians (from whom I am descended). Anna Seghers’ Transit also spoke to me about life in exile and awaiting those all-important visas.

    Reply

  2. 1streading
    Jul 10, 2015 @ 20:27:26

    I’ve only ever read one Goytisolo novel, many years ago, and I really didn’t get on with it (I can’t even remember which one it was!) Perhaps it’s time to give him another try.

    Reply

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