From Publishers WeeklySo richly imagined, penetratingly subtle and gracefully and intelligently written is Villalongas novel, first published in Spain in 1956, it is a puzzle that this minor masterpiece has been so long in reaching theMoreFrom Publishers WeeklySo richly imagined, penetratingly subtle and gracefully and intelligently written is Villalongas novel, first published in Spain in 1956, it is a puzzle that this minor masterpiece has been so long in reaching the English-speaking world.
The authors idiosyncratic portrait, or . . . poem of Mallorca of the second half of the 19th century has been justly compared to Lampedusas Il Gattopardo. Like the Sicilian Lampedusa, the Mallorcan Villalongas familial heritage of fading nobility is his fictional subject, and his writing is, in its highly cultured worldliness and acute self-awareness, aristocratic in the best sense.
The novel is an account of the end of the noble house of Bearn by Don Joan Mayol, the young chaplain to that family, shortly after the sudden and problematical deaths of the aged and issueless Don Toni and Dona Maria Antonia during a masked ball held in their ancestral home. Villalonga weaves a complex, nuanced account of decadence by means of subtle interplay between the narrators simple, naive good will and the perplexing object of his scrutiny: Don Toni, whose rational intellect is juxtaposed with his complicatedly libidinous and destructive personality.
If the reader can see farther than the narrator, it is not at the expense of respect for Don Joan- and the secret of the Dolls Room--unopened for 25 years, where Don Felipe, an eminent and ostensibly virile Bearn ancestor had scandalously and mysteriously secluded himself to dress dolls--tantalizes both enigmatically. Villalongas elegance and sophistication as a storyteller and his ability vividly to summon up the Paris and Rome as well as Mallorca of the last century with keen insight, interspersed with occasional hilarity, makes one hope that more of his work will appear in translation soon.Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.ReviewIt is a puzzle that this masterpiece has been so long in reaching the English-speaking world.
(Publishers Weekly )Villalonga is surely one of the best-loved writers in the Catalan language. (World Literature Today )