Friday, August 24, 2007

An Extract From Juan The Landless: Juan Goytisolo

I haven't read this book yet but cannot resist to convey the magic of this prose. This is the beginning of Juan The Landless, part 3 of the Marks Of Identity trilogy by Juan Goytisolo. The first sentence is 6 pages long and I am quoting just a short extract. The splendour of this long sentence will convey the lush richness of Goytisolo's oeuvre and the complexity of its psychological motives.

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according to Hindustani gurus, in the superior phase of meditation the human body, purged of its appetites and desires, abandons itself with delight to an ethereal existence, freed from passions and vices, attentive only to a gentle flow of a time without end, as light winged as those soaring little birds of passage seemingly obeying only the soft and melodious inspiration of an invisible breeze and musically absorbed in remote contemplation of the sea: sensory stimuli and sensory excitations no longer have any effect on it, and immersed in the beneficent languor of an eternal present, it loftily disdains the absurd slavery of lustful pleasures, pure, svelte, airy,weightless, with the delicate fluidity of those clouds which at eventide enhance the majesty of autumnal landscapes, far from the world's feverish, frantic hustle and bustle: rising above the tyranny of pretty contingency and hence offering to the devout admiration of the vulgar the solemn and tranquil demeanour of the ascetic purified by his acts of penitence and his fasts, the smiling indifference of the Brahman martyr face to face with the preparations being made for his own death, the serene composure of the fakir gracefully reclining on his bed of nails: but the body that observes you from the corner of the table, from the bright coloured jacket of the Hi-fi record, appears to be proclaiming violently, in a shriek almost, that never, absolutely never, will it attain, even in the improbable case that this might have been a deliberate goal that it had set itself, to the superior phase of transcendental meditation, the austere but ineffable pleasures of the beatific contemplative life: neither an anchorite nor a fakir nor a Brahman: merely a body: an extension of matter in space: an offspring of the earth, to earth forever united: united of a tight neat line, a carefully confined surface, a lissome slenderness, a plethora of flesh, baroque splendor, an opulent and fruitful, bountiful, fertile body, solidly rooted in the inferior world that to a pair of feet which, though left out of the artistic composition of the portrait, give one every reason to believe that they are the equal of the rest in grandeur, prodigality, and excess: naked feet, doubtless, seeking the direct, symbiotic contact that draws forth from the primordial substance the life-force, the powers of generation: for a rich sap nourishes this body and sustains it, generously helps it to thrive, invents fabulous convexities: the confining edge of the low cut neckline can scarcely contain them and favours a vast unfurling of waves which, although concealed beneath the velvety suppleness of the fabric, nonetheless prove appetizing to the eyes of the judicious spectator: roiled, towering surfaces which, from the imposing chin line downward, descend with windmill-like fury to the frontal apotheosis: a double crest, a supreme sea swell that the fearful Antillean hurricane has catapulted to the dizzying heights of an incredible prominence: the fatal wave rising in awesome splendor moments before crashing down upon the disaster area and sweeping away with wrathful provision the habitations, chattel, towns, industries, crops of an area teeming with life, transforming it, in the wink of an eye, into a dreary and desolate quagmire, abandoned to the moans of the victims, the barking of dogs, the hovering of vultures, sacking by looters and the starving, and the eager though tardy zeal of well-intentioned international charity organizations.............................

5 comments:

Alok said...

I read your previous post on this writer with great interest too. and this has further whetted my appetite. the book doesn't seem to be there in my local library but will definitely be on a look out when I am in a book store the next time.

KUBLA KHAN said...

Alok

Believe me, the immensity of this prose, its brilliance is so unmatchable that, I, usually dour and miserly with praise for writers, find myself breathless.
I will try to post another extract soon, but.....grab him soon!

Alok said...

okay, i searched again. the sister library has his marx family saga, landscape after the battle and a few more books. will definitely take a trip and check out this saturday. oh that's tomorrow. great!!

Alok said...

btw, you must have read Javier Marias. He is another writer I hear when the topic of greatest living spanish writer comes up. I had some of his books back home but for some reason never really got started with them....

KUBLA KHAN said...

Alok I have read A heart so white, by Marias. it is his only novel that i have read. he too is a great writer and usually compared to Marquez a la magic realism etc
but this Goytisolo writing......is another planet.

yes, Goytisolo's other books are supposed to be great too, including landscapes after the battle.
Happy hunting!