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the Complete Review
the complete review - essays

Space in Motion

Juan Goytisolo

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To purchase Space in Motion

Title: Space in Motion
Author: Juan Goytisolo
Genre: Essays
Written: (1987)
Length: 78 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Space in Motion - US
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  • Translated by Helen R. Lane
  • Included in Harold Bloom's The Western Canon (the only Goytisolo text he includes)
  • Several pieces also included in Saracen Chronicles

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting though fairly simple little pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. A 3/7/1988 Helen Benedict

  From the Reviews:
  • "(W)ritten in a learned but not stuffy prose, deftly translated by Helen R. Lane. (...) His opinions may strike some as radical, but they are undoubtedly fresh." - Helen Benedict, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. 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.

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The complete review's Review:

       This small volume offers ten casual pieces by Goytisolo, written for El País and the like. They largely have to do with place -- foreign places, and how travellers and foreigners perceive and adapt to them. Goytisolo writes about Flaubert and Sir Richard Burton and their differing approaches to being abroad, and he also includes several pieces recounting his own travels.
       The pieces are entertaining enough, and some are quite interesting. The analysis of the tourist Flaubert is perhaps the most trenchant (and harsh). The piece on the fascinating Richard Burton offers a good survey of the "pilgrim and sexologist" (as Goytisolo calls him in the title of the piece), but most of it is familiar (and borrowed from the Brodie biography). Much has been written about Burton since the essay first appeared, and so it seems a bit simple -- more of an introduction than most readers might need --, especially in recounting Burton's adventures. Goytisolo is at his best in his analysis of culture, attitude, and character, and these parts are the most enjoyable.
       The results are also varied when Goytisolo writes about his own travels. Perhaps most interesting is his explanation of Why I have chosen to live in Paris. Always drawn to the mixing and melding of cultures his description of these aspects of Parisian life (and, similarly, life in Kreuzberg, Berlin) is the most enthusiastic in the volume.
       Living in Turkey is a longer piece, and by far the weakest in the volume, a largely uncritical travelogue, poking fun at easy targets (other tourists) and too readily in awe of the land he visits. It reads as though written for a Sunday travel supplement. Goytisolo coasts through both Turkey and the piece.
       The short Spanish pieces are fairly effective, especially Goytisolo's revisiting of the place where Walter Benjamin is buried.
       An American trip to the Dillinger museum is fairly amusing. The closing piece, written in light of the looting during the blackout in New York in 1977, A Modest Proposal to the Princes of Our Wondrous Consumer Society, offers an amusing suggestion which seems, however, in these changed times terribly dated.
       Goytisolo has interesting ideas and is generally fairly perceptive, making almost everything he writes worth reading. Certainly, this is an enjoyable little volume, but they are very casual pieces, the sort of thing one expects to read in newspapers or weeklies. A decent diversion, with a few thoughtful points.

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Juan Goytisolo: Other books by Goytisolo under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Spanish author Juan Goytisolo (1931-2017) lived in voluntary exile since 1956, mainly in Paris and Morocco. He is the author of numerous highly regarded novels.

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