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Death in Spring

Mercè Rodoreda

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"Rodoreda had bedazzled me by the sensuality with which she reveals things within the atmosphere of her novels."
—Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Considered by many to be the grand achievement of her later period, DEATH IN SPRING is one of Mercè Rodoreda’s most complex and beautifully constructed works. The novel tells the story of the bizarre and destructive customs of a nameless town through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy. The boy struggles to come to terms with the rhyme and reason of the town’s ritual violence, and with his wild, teenaged stepmother, who becomes his playmate. By developing the relationships between the boy and the townspeople, and examining the town’s rituals, Rodoreda portrays a fully-articulated, though quite disturbing, society.

The horrific rituals, however, stand in stark contrast to the novel’s stunningly poetic language and lush descriptions—DEATH IN SPRING is musical and rhythmic, and it is truly the work of a writer at the height of her powers.

A book for the ages, DEATH IN SPRING can be read as a metaphor for Franco’s Spain (or any oppressed society), or as a mythological quest novel. Similar to Shirley Jackson’s work (especially The Lottery), and featuring the imaginative qualities of Raymond Roussel’s Impressions of Africa, Rodoreda’s last novel is a bold, ambitious statement, and a fitting capstone to her remarkable career.


Mercè Rodoreda (1908–1983) is widely regarded as the most important Catalan writer of the twentieth century. Rodoreda began writing short stories as an escape from an unhappy early marriage, and in the early 1930s she began publishing political articles and wrote four early novels. Exiled in France and Switzerland following the Spanish Civil War, Rodoreda began writing the novels and short stories (Twenty-two Short Stories, The Time of the Doves, Camellia Street, Garden by the Sea) that would eventually make her internationally famous, while at the same time earning a living as a seamstress. In the mid-1960s, she returned to Catalonia, where she continued to write. DEATH IN SPRING was published posthumously, and is translated into English for the first time here.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 23, 2009 – Exiled after the Spanish Civil War, Rodoreda (1908–1993) worked on this marvelously disturbing novel over a 20-year period, and its first publication was posthumous. As macabre as a Grimm fairy tale, the novel portrays the cruel customs of an unnamed village as seen through the eyes of an unnamed 14-year-old boy. The narrator witnesses his father’s horrible death, which, it becomes clear as the story progresses, happens according to local custom: to pour cement into the mouths of the dying in order to seal their souls within their bodies, then entomb them within a hollowed tree. The narrator also spends a good deal of time with the village prisoner, who for years has been confined to a too-small cage and now is only too happy to explain the bizarre village goings-on to the narrator and his friend, the son of the blacksmith who runs the town. The plot, though anemic, has its share of increasingly perverse twists, and the intense lyricism of Rodoreda’s language, captured here by Tennent’s gorgeous translation, makes her grotesque vision intoxicating and haunting.
Death in Spring
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 12, 2010
  • Publisher: Open Letter
  • Seller: University of Rochester
  • Print Length: 150 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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