Luis Martin Santos: Time of Silence. Calder & Boyars. 30s.
‘The facts are brutal, they must be reported.’ This, in the eyes of most young Spanish novelists, is the present task, and their school of reportage-fiction, influenced by the ’30’s, suggests, often powerfully, that their country’s social reality precludes other effective literary forms. Time of Silence, the best Spanish novel since the civil war, suggests otherwise. Its force, and the unity of the multiform styles at its author’s command—lies in its irony, that typically Spanish form of fatalism which is here turned into a scalpel. It is a return, not to the ’30’s, but to the tradition of Cervantes, and it is little wonder that, despite the heavy censorship (all the cuts have been restored in this excellent translation), it had a bombshell effect in Spain. In a few brilliant pages, which take the reader from Madrid’s hovels to its high society, the novel reveals the entrails of a society living out Franco’s ‘25 years of peace’, with a detachment that is in itself an ironic return on the author’s commitment. A