Death in Spring

Death in Spring

4.0 4
by Mercè Rodoreda
     
 

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Death in Spring tells the story of the bizarre and destructive customs of a nameless town—burying the dead in trees after filling their mouths with cement to prevent their soul from escaping, or sending a man to swim in the river that courses underneath the town—through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy who must come to terms with the rhyme and

Overview

Death in Spring tells the story of the bizarre and destructive customs of a nameless town—burying the dead in trees after filling their mouths with cement to prevent their soul from escaping, or sending a man to swim in the river that courses underneath the town—through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy who must come to terms with the rhyme and reason of this ritual violence, and with his wild, child-like, and teenaged stepmother, who becomes his playmate. Musical and rhythmic, this is truly the work of a writer at the height of her powers.

Mercè Rodoreda (1908–83) is widely regarded as the most important Catalan writer of the twentieth century.

Martha Tennent translates from Spanish and Catalan, and received an NEA translation fellowship for her work on Rodoreda.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Rodoreda infuses surreal elements into her novel in a similar fashion to her Spanish-language, magical-realist counterparts, using the fantastic to draw out the strangeness of quotidian reality, but perhaps due to its brevity (Death in Spring comes in at only 150 pages) the magical seems far more saturated than in, say, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and serves to further the sense that the story takes place in a world impossibly close to but distinctly alien from ours."–Hannah Manshel, The Front Table

"The bleakness of Rodoreda's outlook stands in dramatic contrast to the gorgeous lyricism of her prose. In Martha Tennent's translation, her sentences are richly luxuriant, embodying the fecund beauty of spring in bloom while also admitting the imminence of death and decay. Throughout Death in Spring, horror often creeps in right on beauty's heels."–Ryan Michael Williams, Rain Taxi

"Tradition is a strange and curious thing. "Death in Spring,"is a novel from Catalan author Merce Rodoreda, expertly translated by Martha Tennent. Focusing on a small town and its strande customs, "Death in Spring" is a very special and highly recommended read."–The Midwest Book Review

"The novel is suspenseful, pushing the reader through the images, memories, and voices that flow within the protagonist’s often confused mind as he develops into manhood. Just as the unnamed protagonist must navigate a world of contradictions, the novel reflects Rodoreda’s own political, social, and literary exile while speaking of a tyranny that feels almost uncanny in its incantation."–Katherine Elaine Sanders, Bomb Magazine

"This novel is just one boy's account of living life; it is an example that tells us a story: a beautiful and evocative and viscerally bloody story about life and death."–Patrick Gage Kelley, The Tartan

"Death in Spring is very different from any other story I've read. It's strange and unsettling but still compelling, and has stayed with me for many weeks as I try to work out its meaning. The obvious conclusion is that it is about the corruption of what is natural, as is death in the season of new life and rebirth."–Charlotte Simpson, Belletrista

Publishers Weekly

Exiled after the Spanish Civil War, Rodoreda (1908-1993) worked on this marvelously disturbing novel over a 20-year period, and its first publication was posthumous. As macabre as a Grimm fairy tale, the novel portrays the cruel customs of an unnamed village as seen through the eyes of an unnamed 14-year-old boy. The narrator witnesses his father's horrible death, which, it becomes clear as the story progresses, happens according to local custom: to pour cement into the mouths of the dying in order to seal their souls within their bodies, then entomb them within a hollowed tree. The narrator also spends a good deal of time with the village prisoner, who for years has been confined to a too-small cage and now is only too happy to explain the bizarre village goings-on to the narrator and his friend, the son of the blacksmith who runs the town. The plot, though anemic, has its share of increasingly perverse twists, and the intense lyricism of Rodoreda's language, captured here by Tennent's gorgeous translation, makes her grotesque vision intoxicating and haunting. (May)

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Library Journal

Rodoreda (1908-83), arguably the most outstanding 20th century Catalan writer, has remained until recently largely unrecognized in Spain, despite the wide recognition of her most famous work, The Time of the Doves(1980). Death in Spring, left posthumously incomplete and not published until 1986, is considered by some critics her best work. Set in a mythical village, the story is narrated in its first half by a 14-year-old misfit who, after witnessing the burial of his father in a tree with his mouth cemented, spends his days wandering the cemetery and countryside accompanied by his barely older stepmother. The second half advances to his adulthood as the narrator relates the stoning of his daughter and his own ritualistic death. This bare-bones plot advances at a highly symbolic level in an oneiric, hallucinatory text. Populated by many deformed outcasts who participate in and are victims of cruel and superficially absurd sacrificial rituals, this novelistic world transcends time and place to present a cruel and incomprehensible universe whose inhabitants are obsessed with the omnipresence of death; the symbolic allegory has possible political overtones. Best for committed readers of fiction in translation.
—Lawrence Olszewski

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934824115
Publisher:
Open Letter
Publication date:
04/15/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
150
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author


Mercè Rodoreda is widely regarded as the most important Catalan writer of the twentieth century. Exiled to France during the Spanish Civil War, and only able to return to Catalonia in the mid-1960s, she wrote a number of highly praised works, including The Time of the Doves and Death in Spring.

Martha Tennent was born in the U.S, but has lived most of her life in Barcelona where she served as founding dean of the School of Translation and Interpreting at the University of Vic. She translates from Spanish and Catalan, and received an NEA Translation Fellowship for her work on Rodoreda.

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