The Valley of the Fallen Carlos Rojas, Edith Grossman

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
20 Mar 2018
Yale University Press
312 pages: 197 x 127 x 25mm
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Acclaimed translator Edith Grossman brings to English-language readers Rojas’s imaginative vision of Francisco de Goya and the reverberations of his art in Fascist Spain

This historical novel by one of Spain’s most celebrated authors weaves a tale of disparate time periods: the early years of the nineteenth century, when Francisco de Goya was at the height of his artistic career, and the final years of Generalissimo Franco’s Fascist rule in the 1970s. Rojas re-creates the nineteenth-century corridors of power and portrays the relationship between Goya and King Fernando VII, a despot bent on establishing a cruel regime after Spain’s War of Independence. Goya obliges the king’s request for a portrait, but his depiction not only fails to flatter but reflects a terrible darkness and grotesqueness. More than a century later, transcending conventional time, Goya observes Franco’s body lying in state and experiences again a dark and monstrous despair.
Rojas's work is a dazzling tour de force, a unique combination of narrative invention and art historical expertise that only he could have brought to the page.

Carlos Rojas is an award-winning novelist, art historian, and creator of visual works of art. He is also Charles Howard Candler Professor of Spanish Emeritus at Emory University. He lives in Atlanta. Edith Grossman has received an array of awards for her translations by authors including Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Miguel de Cervantes.

“Entwining different timelines, Carlos Rojas’s The Valley of the Fallen links Goya’s prophetic visions to the modern history of Spain and the life of his biographer.”—Ben Eastham, TLS

“A writer of unusual range . . . The oneiric plays a fundamental part in much of Rojas’s work, and in The Valley of the Fallen it is a permeable membrane through which history and the present communicate, at first in snatches, until reality breaks down and the characters grow aware of their frailty, their subservience to the hidden whims of a friend they call R., a stand-in for Rojas himself.”—Adrian Nathan West, New York Review of Books