First published in Spain in 1983 and proclaimed “an instant postmodern classic, without a doubt the most disturbingly original Spanish prose of the century” (Encyclopedia Britannica 1985 Book of the Year), Larva is a rollicking account of a masquerade party in an abandoned mansion in London.
Milalias (disguised as Don Juan) searches for Babelle (as Sleeping Beauty) though a linguistic fun house of polylingual puns and wordplay recalling Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A mock-scholarly commentary reveals the backgrounds of the masked revelers, while Ríos’s punning and allusive language shows that words, too, wear masks, hiding an astonishing range of further meanings and implications.
Larva‘s tale, a reassessment of the Don Juan myth in our time, is told in single-minded pursuit of double meanings, but it is serious play. It revives a Hispanic tradition repressed for centuries by introducing the Madhatter English tradition of puns, palindromes, and acrostics, by creating Joycean echoes and pushing language to its maximum connotative capacity.
Larva has been praised by such leading Spanish-language writers as Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, and Severo Sarduy, and establishes Ríos as the most accomplished successor to Joyce.