Vol. XIX, #3 The Best of The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Review of Contemporary Fiction
The Marx Family Saga, by Juan Goytisolo
reviewed by Sophia A. McClennan
Trans. Peter Bush. City Lights Books, 1999. 186 pp. Paper: $10.95.
For those concerned with the fate of politics after poststructuralism, The Marx Family Saga provides a brutally vivid characterization of the intricacies of social commitment in a world which consumes more television than literature. In narrative gestures typical of his earlier work, Goytisolo posits a number of surreal hypotheses: How would Karl Marx explain his work if he were alive today? Would he answer the media interest in “scandals”? How does one write about Marx today?
Goytisolo is one the finest masters of the postmodern. Rarely using punctuation, his narrative has a remarkable sense of rhythm and a strong element of self-reflection. The dilemma of writing in today’s market functions as a concern equal to the reaction of a fictitious Marx to the collapse of communism. When the author must face a Faulkner-ish editor (who chastises him for complex style) and his consultant, Dr. Lewin-Strauss, a feminist sexologist (who criticizes Marx’s treatment of the family servant), the reader is thrust into an odd world of hyper-intertextuality and bizarre twists of history.