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Kiss of the Spider Woman Paperback – April 3, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (April 3, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679724494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679724490
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Novel by Manuel Puig, published in 1976 as El beso de la mujer arana. Mostly consisting of dialogue between two men in an Argentine jail cell, the novel traces the development of their unlikely friendship. Molina is a middle-aged homosexual who passes the long hours in prison by acting out scenes from his favorite movies. Valentin is a young socialist revolutionary, who initially berates Molina for his effeminacy and his lack of political conviction. Sharing the hardships of a six-month prison term, the two eventually forge a strong relationship that becomes sexual. In an ironic role reversal at the end of the novel, Molina dies as a result of his involvement in politics while Valentin escapes the pain of torture by retreating into a dream world. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish

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Customer Reviews

Ignore them till you reach the end then go back and read them.
M. Haven
I think it is essential to read the footnotes along with the narrative since they add to Puig's experimental narrative style.
"xxfirexcrackerxx"
The style is one of the most outstanding features of the book.
Stephanie Zuercher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By "xxfirexcrackerxx" on March 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
Since there are already so many reviews for this excellent book, I will limit my contribution to a few comments on the footnotes. They are not mere postmodern flourish, nor are they superfluous. They function in several ways. First, they mark a certain reception of psychoanalytic theory in Argentina. Secondly, although in the beginning they correspond to the story (in the tradition way that footnotes do -- as elaboration on a point that cannot be contained in the narrative) they begin to loose their direct correspondence as the story continues. This "unraveling" corresponds to the unraveling of the framing device (most importantly the telling of stories), which traditionally is a narrative structure that functions to hold sexual desire at bay. In other words, the footnotes lose their hold as the characters become closer, sharing more personal facets of their lives, and eventually becoming sexual. In this way the footnotes subtend the narrative in such a way as to track sexual desire and the confusing and contradictory aspects (and theories) that attend to it. I think it is essential to read the footnotes along with the narrative since they add to Puig's experimental narrative style. If they are confusing, that is the point. Unexpected desire, like love, always is.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Zuercher on January 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was recommended to my by a very enthusiastic friend, and I must say, having finished the book, I understand why. Roughly, the story is about two men in prison: Luis Molina, the homosexual window dresser, and Valentin Arruiga Paz. That, however, only begins to describe it. It's also about movies: Molina tells the plots of movies, partially to pass the time, partially because these movies -- living these movies -- is his escape. He prefers the movies from the forties and fifties, with the real divas, short hair, lots of blood-red lipstick . . . The movies aren't just time-passers, either: they reflect the events of the book.
The style is one of the most outstanding features of the book. It is almost entirely in dialogue, with some brief spates into play-format and a couple of police reports. It varies with the setting. There are also a couple of sections in stream-of-consciousness, where one receives Molina's movies as he thinks of them, no bothering with sentences. It all contributes to a wonderful effect.
I have, however, heard, that although this is the only translation available, it isn't the best. For example, Molina refers to himself as a woman throughout the book in the Spanish version. Although this isn't as possible in English, one could have made more of an effort, to preserve the feel of the original.
So go learn Spanish (if you don't know it already) -- but read this first!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
We tend to divide ourselves into groups: male, female, gay, straight, conservative, liberal... KOTSW reminds us that, underneath all of the labels, we are all human, and we can all change for the better when we want to. The simple power and beauty of this story overwhelmes me each time I re-read it. Puig created a pure microcosmos with his tale, and let it develop beautifully. I've gone through two copies in English, and my Spanish copy is in tatters. KOTSW is one of the most important stories of the latter half of the century, and should not go ignored.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book, and I must say that it is much better than the movie. From watching the movie, you get the sense that Molina tells the movies only to pass the time and entertain himself, while the fact that Molina IS the movies that he relates - that he lives the movies in his mind, that they have always been an escape for him, an escape from the prison in which he always finds himself, whether physical or societal - is emphasized much more significantly in the novel.
This is a story of immediate feeling and passion, of the harshness and smallness of life, the desire for transcendence through the love of and for another, and the power that the imagination ultimately has over reality. In the end, Valentin gives in to Molina's philosophy, unable to stand the cruelty and torture that he undergoes as a jailed revolutionary. And for Molina, you feel that even though his one true experience of love was momentary, it was enough to give his life meaning.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By EriKa on September 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Kiss of the Spider Woman was a book I had always wanted to read but never did. Then a friend was studying it in his university, and when he finished it, he loaned the book to me. Unfortunately the continuity of the story was interrupted when I reached the halfway point because he asked for the book back for a number of weeks (he needed it for finals). So I think the book is definitely not one of the sort you can start and then pick back up again in a few months. You need to have some concentration to be engaged in the story. It also helps to have some background and context to place the story in.
Almost the entire story takes place in a jail cell between a revolutionary, Valentin, and a homosexual window dresser, Molina, who has been put there to attempt to learn secrets from his cell mate to undermine the revolution. As the story progresses, though, a very strong bond between the two inmates develops. Molina tells stories about films he has seen in order to pass their time together, and they begin to discuss the films, then philosophy and finally life. They share a very reluctant, slow-growing friendship but eventually grow quite close, intimately close. Their friendship is unlikely but is developed with great consideration by Puig, making it believable and plausible throughout each stage. The two men learn to care about one another and show immense compassion for one another.
The movie descriptions are what bind the two together, bring out their common elements. Valentin grows sad at the end of each movie, having grown attached to the characters, much as the reader does with this book. They debate, "It can be a vice, always trying to escape from reality like that, it's like taking drugs or something.
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