Manuel Mujica Láinez

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Anthony Burgess

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Manuel Mujica Lainez's [The Wandering Unicorn] comes with an accolade from Borges. The great experimentalist is happy to see here a return to "the sense of destiny, of adventure with its hopes and fears, the tradition of Stevenson, Hugo and—why not?—Ariosto." The old magician has unerringly picked on the essential elements of this strange tale of a twelfth-century knight preparing to help rescue Jerusalem from the hordes of Saladin. It is a good read, like the two romantic spell-binders he mentions, and it has the frank magic of Orlando Furioso, as well as some of its wit and sexual candour. The heroine is a monster, half-human, half-serpent, immortal and no fool, who conceives an immortal lust for the young knight. It is no pastiche of the past but a very contemporary book, ironically baroque, and a reminder that Spanish American fiction is not just A Hundred Years of Solitude.

But Lainez will never get the Nobel: he writes too well and there is no political protest in him. The same could be said of Borges. (p. 77)

Anthony Burgess, "Tokyo Roses," in Punch, Vol. 284, No. 7431, April 27, 1983, pp. 76-7.∗

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John Walker