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Marks of Identity [Paperback]

Juan Goytisolo
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Price: 9.02 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

25 Sep 2003
A Spanish exile returns from Paris to his family home in Barcelona. The first volume of Goytisolo's great trilogy which includes Count Julian and Juan the Landless, Marks of Identity is a revealing reflection on exile. Goytisolo comes to the conclusion that every man carries his own exile about with him, wherever he lives. The narrator (Goytisolo) rejects Spain itself and searches instead for poetry, the word without history' Marks of Identity is a shocking and influential work, and an affirmation of the ability of the individual to survive the political tyrannies of our time.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (25 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852427671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852427672
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 465,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Marks of Identity a masterpiece which should whet the appetites of British readers for the rest of the trilogy.' Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

A novel of political tyranny and exile by the Man Booker International 2011 finalist --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but thoroughly rewarding read 28 May 2002
Juan Goytisolo ponders many of the same questions as do we all: Who am I? How did I get here? What made me the way I am? Goytisolo however articulates these uncertainties with great talent and style. As the protagonist Alvaro searches for his 'marks of identity', what made him the way he is and who he is, the reader is taken on a postmodern voyage, involving ingenious juxtapositions of fiction with fact. Particularly effective is the reading of a town's plan of celebrations, interjected with dialogue from scenes of police oppression. As Alvaro picks apart his constructed identity the text fragments also, making the narrative a little difficult to follow at times but by the completion of the book the reader has a sense of coherence, if not well-deserved accomplishment.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange complex masterpiece 24 May 2003
This novel "Señas de Identidad" (Signs of Identity) should be read in Spanish. It frequently has an accusatory tone, & for example, switches between "registers" of prose characteristic of the fascist era from 1936 thru 1974 such as the turgid police reports. It is Alvaro's lone-voice odyssey through a dysfunctional post-war Spain in search of the stratified remnants of his childhood memories or "signs" of his past, prior to his years of exile in France. The juxtaposing of past & present is complex, with a heavy sense of menace & oppression. The fragmentation in the story-line is symbolic of the fragmentation of the Spanish psyche under the Fascist regime...when only the symbols of the conquerors have prevailed.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Punctuation 6 April 2006
By A Customer
The author of this book must have an incredible lung capacity. He dosen't seem to usefull stops at all (though perhaps this is a feature of the translation from spanish to english). The first sentence runs for three pages. These convoluted sentences make the writting extreamly hard to follow.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prose of the highest order 5 Dec 2009
By arukiyomi - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marks of Identity 8 April 2008
By A. Soto - Published on Amazon.com
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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