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This article is taken from PN Review 231, Volume 43 Number 1, September - October 2016.

A Tapestry of Words: On the Enduring Power of Pere Gimferrer’s Fortuny Trevor Barnett
FORTUNY, PERE GIMFERRER'S only Catalan novel, holds a unique place in twentieth-century Spanish literature. At once allusive and elusive, it is a bold and dazzling piece of writing that continues to challenge and captivate readers.

Pere Gimferrer, perhaps better known to English readers for his poetry or for his essays on twentieth-
century painting, has always been a writer rooted in the modernist tradition. Pound, Eliot and Spain’s Generation of ’27 are notable influences on his work, as is Octavio Paz, whose advice to the young writer – ‘What is at stake is not reality, but language’1 – marked the direction that his early work would take. At the start of his career, he was considered the leading writer of the Novísimos, a group named after Nueve Novísimos, a highly-influential poetry anthology published in 1970. This eclectic brood of writers were influenced by structuralist ideas on language, and attempted to create poetry that was intellectual and intertextual. Gimferrer’s novel, written well over a decade later, shows a change in genre, but not entirely in style.

Written in the early 1980s, with Spain’s transition to democracy in full flow, the experimentation with form in Fortuny reflects the continuing exuberance amongst artists and writers in the country at the time. A number of Gimferrer’s contemporaries had spent the previous decade producing experimental novels, openly rejecting the social-realist writing that had dominated Spanish literature during the Franco years. Many of these novels would be too easily dismissed by later critics as pretentious and elitist. Published in 1983, ...

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