Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 190

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Trained as a civil engineer, Juan Benet began to write fiction while pursuing a successful career in that profession. Return to Region was his first major work of fiction. It attracted little attention until 1969, when his second novel, Una meditacion (1970; A Meditation, 1982), won the Biblioteca Breve literary prize. With the publication of Un viaje de invierno (1972; a winter journey), which, like the first two novels, is set in Region, critics began to speak of Benet’s trilogy. La otra casa de Mazon (1973; the Mazons’ other house) is also set in Region, and En el estado (1977; in the state) is set in a similar area which the author calls La Portada.

Because Benet is such an unconventional author, it is difficult and perhaps unnecessary to classify his literary production. He has worked in a variety of genres: the novel, the novella, the short story, and the drama. In all, he conveys a view of man that is unique and consistent. The critic Vicente Cabrera has called Benet’s fictional world a “symphony of despair,” for Benet depicts man as a solitary, alienated being whose fear and anguish lead inevitably to failure.