Background[ edit ] Juan Goytisolo was born to an upper class family. He claimed that this level of status, accompanied by the cruelties of his great-grandfather and the miserliness of his grandfather discovered through the reading of old family letters and documents , was a major reason for his joining the Communist party in his youth. He later attended law school at the University of Madrid and the University of Barcelona, but left without earning a degree. His deep opposition to Francisco Franco led him into exile in Paris later that same year, where he worked as a reader for Gallimard. In the early s, he was a friend of Guy Debord. From to he worked as a literature professor in universities in California , Boston , and New York.
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David T. It is against wanton destruction that Mr. Goytisolo writes; at least that is the most powerful effect of his memoir.
And beneath his anger at the dreadful ruin, there lies a belief in human survival that is immensely reassuring. He weaves the details of his life together with those of his early novels, underscoring the genesis of certain works or highlighting emotions which he later transformed into fiction. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole.
We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. Goytisolo was born in difficult times, in a difficult place. Politically they supported the despicable Franco. Juan was too young to make much of the political debate at the time but it, and the war that raged nearby, made a strong mark on the future Marxist.
Goytisolo describes many of his own petty crimes from youth, including stealing money from his grandmother and the like. Regarding his small thefts he suspects that his grandmother knows him to be the thief, but instead she just wonders aloud what can have happened to the money, distressed by her own absent-mindedness. A grandfather who had previously been arrested for molesting a youth also molested young Goytisolo, events that had lasting effects on the sexually confused author.
Shamed, the grandfather moved out of the house -- but only down the street. The molestation stopped, but the ambiguous messages of disgrace, humiliation, and some form of tolerance specifically regarding sexual matters continued to weigh heavily on Goytisolo.
Books always played a significant role in his life. Limited by those he could find, first in the household and then in Franco Spain where so much literature was censored and forbidden, he nevertheless read a great deal. One of his great regrets, however, remains that he was not able to read many of the great works of literature in his youth when they could have more profoundly affected him.
Always eager to write he fills many pages from earliest youth on with his inventions. Goytisolo presents his literary development and how he was shaped into the author he became. Goytisolo wavers between studying law and his true love, literature, when he goes to university. He drifts away from his studies to pursue his writing -- with fair and fast success.
He also experiments with radical politics and with sex. He drinks a great deal, he frequents prostitutes still unclear about his desires he indulges in heterosexual sex for the time being , and he is lured by the world beyond repressed and repressive Spain.
Goytisolo himself draws in many of his later works, suggesting connexions. The volume is fairly brief, and there is much that Goytisolo brushes over. Necessarily subjective, it is still a fascinating picture of the man and how he came to his work. It does not have to be taken for truth.
Goytisolo writes very well, and his memoirs are more approachable than most of his fiction. Most of the narration is straightforward, though there are brief sections interspersed where the author addresses himself in the second person -- commentary and consideration of the life, a sort of stepping outside the book for a moment.
He succeeded in combining beautiful language with emotional honesty and political polemic. His impressive, varied body of work — he published 19 novels, two books of stories, five travel books and several essay collections — succeeded in combining beautiful language with emotional honesty and political polemic. These compelling portraits of his wild childhood and youth in Barcelona are unique in Spanish letters for their personal honesty. The early novels and stories are in the social realist tradition, coupled with political commitment. Goytisolo studied law before his first novel, Juegos de Manos The Young Assassins , was published in From onwards he had made trips to Paris and in became a reader there for the publisher Gallimard, channelling into translation many Spanish anti-Franco writers and South American novelists.
Juan Goytisolo obituary