EXPERIMENTAL WRITINGS AND PROJECTS

PUBLISHER
Wakefield Press

BOOK FORMAT
Paperback, 4.5 x 7 in. / 88 pgs / 1 color / 4 bw.

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D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: FALL 2017 p. 83   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9781939663320 TRADE
List Price: $14.95 CDN $21.00

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BROWSE THE 2018 FALL CATALOG

From 'Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin' to 'The Swimming Pool in Photography' to 'Protest: The Aesthetics of Resistance,' with new monographs on Yayoi Kusama, Hilma af Klint, James Turrell and Jack Whitten, and announcing D.A.P. distribution for Glenstone Museum and SPBH Editions.

BOOKSELLER TRADE ANNOTATION

An engineer by trade, Benet brings his knowledge of building construction to bear on Painter Jan Bruegel's creation, examining the archways, pillars, windows, and the painter's meticulously depicted chaos
  • THE AUTHOR: Juan Benet ( 1927-1993) a Spanish Avant Garde writer much admired in Europe but little translated into English. On the author's death, The New York Times ran an obituary for him, comparing his stature in Spain to that of William Faulkner in the United States, James Joyce in Ireland, and Marcel Proust in France.
  • THE BOOK: two essays, the first a meditation on Bruegel's famous painting of the Tower of Babel (the first painting in European art to feature a building as a protagonist) and the second an essay on "the dual nature of the spy."
  • This is the first translation of the book into English. Book will include a foldout reproduction of the painting in question for reader's reference.
  • QUOTE: Even when overcome by the recollection of other more troubling and dramatic paintings, what visitor to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna can forget the impression produced by Brueghel's Construction of the Tower of Babel?

  

WAKEFIELD PRESS

The Construction of the Tower of Babel

By Juan Benet. Translation and introduction by Adrian Nathan West.

Juan Benet’s penultimate book, The Construction of the Tower of Babel brings together two essays that testify to the multiplicity of the author’s interests, both personal and professional.

The titular essay is a meditation on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1563 painting of the Tower of Babel: the first painting in European art history to feature a building as a protagonist. An engineer by trade, Benet brings his knowledge of building construction to bear on Bruegel’s creation, examining the archways, pillars, windows and the painter’s meticulously depicted chaos at the heart of the edifice’s centuries-long execution. An unusual analysis of architectural hubris and the linguistic myth that gave rise to it, Benet’s essay builds its own linguistic telescoping structure that could be described as an “architextual” discourse on the madness of the unending project.

Also included is “On the Necessity of Treason” (a theme of particular interest to Benet, whose father was shot by Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, and whose brother was forced to escape to France, exiled for his Republican sympathies). Benet considers the essentially dual nature of the spy and the curious World War II cases of Julius Norke and William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) to conclude that, within the order of the State, the traitor is not only necessary, but welcome.

A civil engineer by profession, Spanish writer Juan Benet (1927–93) began writing to pass the long nights of solitude he spent on construction sites in León and Asturias. He self-published his first novel, You Will Never Amount to Anything, in 1961. In 1967, he won the Biblioteca Breve Prize for his novel A Meditation.


PRAISE AND REVIEWS

Javier Marias

His body of work, I have said on many occasions, seems to me the most important in Spain in the second half of the twentieth century. His work as a novelist and also his work as a literary essayist. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that as a literary essayist, he has very few peers.

Enrique Vila-Matas

Juan Benet is one of the greatest Spanish writers of the century. Perhaps he did not belong to the avant-garde, as has been said so often, but was instead, purely and simply, an ingenious custodian of inspiration and style as they pertain to our literature. He follows behind us now, as if under an invisible weight, dragging his tombstone . . . I believe his influence in the Spanish literature of today is undeniable, but it is an atypical influence, for he is inimitable.

The Construction of the Tower of Babel

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