Mazurka for Two Dead Men

Camilo Jose Cela, Author, Patricia Haugaard, Translator
Camilo Jose Cela, Author, Patricia Haugaard, Translator New Directions Publishing Corporation $21.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1222-9
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8112-1277-9
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The Spanish Civil War intrudes almost casually on the characters' picaresque doings in Cela's amorphous, bawdy novel, first published in Spain in 1983. Set in the mountainous region of Galicia and redolent with the Spanish countryside's wild beauty and its inhabitants' folkways, the work depicts a gallery of sinners, fools and misfits in overlapping yarns that span several generations. The plot involves Lionheart Gamuzo, who was shot in the back in 1936, and his brother Tanis, who in 1940 avenges the death with trained killer dogs. The blind Gaudencio, who works as an accordionist in a whorehouse, plays the same mazurka to commemorate these deaths, framing a sprawling canvas peopled with an enormous Rabelaisian cast, including jazz musician Uncle Cleto, who vomits whenever he's bored; the widow Fina, who is fond of bedding priests; and Roque Gamuzo, who is famed for his colossal member. Winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for literature, Cela ( The Family of Pascual Duarte ) garrulously conveys the impression that ``mankind is a hairy, gregarious beast, wearisome and devoted to miracles and happenings.'' The musical translation captures his lyricism and colloquial flavor. (Nov.)
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