Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The most remarkable aspect of Goytisolo’s Exile Trilogy is the disparity between the more traditional narrative approach of the first novel and the chaotic stylistic features of Count Julian and Juan the Landless. The narrator of Marks of Identity makes use of the diverse points of view and narrative devices typical of European and Latin American fiction of the 1960’s. The two later novels, however, are much more unusual and innovative in their approach to the fictional representation of the narrator’s experience. Count Julian is narrated entirely from what may be called a second-person perspective. The narrator, who is also the central character, refers to himself as “you”—you get up in the morning, you sweep up the bugs, you go out on the street.

Alvaro Mendiola maintains this point of view in Juan the Landless, but in this last novel, he shifts from an implied telling of the experience to a clear portrayal of writing the narrative. This is an important distinction, for novelistic fiction has traditionally been characterized by an illusion that it is not written text. The traditional realistic novel, for example, attempts to create an impression of verisimilitude, employing various techniques calculated to make the text transparent and provide direct access, in an objective manner, to a sociohistorical reality. Novels which do not follow this approach are usually characterized as experimental, for...

(The entire section is 469 words.)