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Marks of Identity Paperback – February 1, 2007

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Marks of Identity + The Time of the Doves (La plaça del Diamant)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564784533
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564784537
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The reissue of this 1969 translation of a Spanish tour-de-force should captivate those who prize the elegant lyricism and complexity of Latin American fiction. Eschewing political dogma, Goytisolo's ( Forbidden Territory )BIP theme--explored in styles ranging from stream-of-consciousness to those imitative of bureaucratic memoranda--is exile and expatriation. The hero returns from Paris to Goytisolo's native Barcelona after ten years' absence, confronting the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and his ruptured relationship to Catholicism and machismo culture. Patience is required to navigate Goytisolo's often serpentine sentences, many of which consume several pages. But the prose, presented here in a luxuriant translation, attains hypnotic, incantatory powers. Its density is remarkably evocative: referring to one servant, for example, the narrator notes that she was "less self-abnegating, however, his Aunt Mercedes would remind them, than that other legendary maid who after an existence of privation . . . left the entire amount of her savings to that scornful grandfather of his who had exploited her during her lifetime."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


His iconoclastic impulse shapes the novel at every level. Even the structure of the writing is a protest against what he once called the "tyrannical conception of genre" ' - The Believer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By arukiyomi on December 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Now the 1001 Books list has its critics. But quite honestly, it's books like Marks of Identity that reinforce my commitment to it. I've never heard of the title or the author and check out that front cover in the photo. Frankly, on the strength of a photo of a stuffed rabbit, some straw, a bit of rusty corrugated iron and a blue torso, I would never have picked this up. I did so simply because it was on the list.

Boy, I'm glad I did pick it up though. Goytisolo's novel is the first one that has moved me with its writing in so many ways for a long time.

The 'story' takes place while Alvaro Mendiola drinks in the night air in his apartment in Cuban exile. From beginning to end, this event must last no more than a couple of hours at the most. But as he drinks, Alvaro starts to recall his life from his childhood to his student days, to the Spanish Civil War and afterwards with self-imposed exile to Paris and, eventually, Cuba.

But these flashbacks are amazing. For each one, Goytisolo adopts some remarkable styles of writing. I was never sure what was coming next. Some of his sentences stretch on for pages and pages. But they're not tough to read. I never had morbid fear as I turned a page like I have had with some books that just seem to go on and on and on. I was engaged throughout.

Goytisolo's depiction of the messy war is very moving and intimate. He uses some great prose to conjure up vivid images and metaphors which reinforce this. And there's a large cast of characters who play his associates and friends, his enemies and, above all, his lover who appears from time to time always with a tinge of melancholy.

This novel, as all good ones should, opened up a world to me and engaged me in it. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Soto on April 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is complex and interesting like the review states. Goytisolo is a great writer and lets you see the depth of his anger towards Catholicism, politics, and the anguish he endured during his childhood in all his works. He is an accomplished writer from Spain and it's too bad he is not read and possibly unheard of by many people here in the United States. More people should be exposed to literature from other countries.

P.S. the editorial reviewer is very wrong on one thing... Goytisolo is NOT a Latin American writer. He is not from Latin America, he his from Spain. Spain is no where in the America's. However, he can be called Hispanic because Spain and the countries that were once colonized by Spain were once Hispanola, hence Hispanic.
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I tried to read Marks of Identity on an overnight flight to Spain. Though the story concept is intriguing to me, It was hard to connect to the stream of consciousness writing style. Possibly I need to give it another try under more relaxed circumstances.
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