An interdisciplinary approach to understanding the Spanish writer's complete body of work
Benjamin Fraser offers an engaging interdisciplinary approach to understanding the literary achievements of Spanish writer Juan Benet (1927–1993) that explores how Benet's intertwined perspectives as author and civil engineer collectively shape his worldview. Benet's intellectual range not only spanned novels, plays, short stories, and essays but also incorporated dams, bridges, canals, and other public works. Fraser offers a fresh vantage point on Benet's writing as invested in both literary and concrete landscapes.
Fraser begins his study by grounding readers of Benet's work in the fundamental importance of understanding the Spanish Civil War. Subsequent chapters offer new perspectives on Benet's literary and essayistic production, first viewing Benet's work through the lens of his profession as a civil engineer and exploring lesser known engineering texts and essays in relation to his creative and literary vision, then mapping the influence of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941) on the Spanish writer's oeuvre. Fraser also harnesses the development of cultural geography and spatial theory to explore the roles of place and space in Benet's novels—highlighting in particular the elaborate spatial dimensions of Benet's own invented cartography of the novelistic place he called "Región."
Understanding Juan Benet ventures beyond traditional literary study, pursuing the interdisciplinary conversations central to Benet's creative work in which history, fiction, engineering, philosophy, and cultural geography all interact. This introduction to Benet's writing also includes a foreword by Malcolm Alan Compitello, author of Ordering the Evidence: Volverás a Región and Civil War Fiction and coeditor of Critical Approaches to the Writing of Juan Benet.
Benjamin Fraser is an assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies at the College of Charleston. Managing editor of the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies and executive editor of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, Fraser is also the author of Henri Lefebvre and the Spanish Urban Experience: Reading the Mobile City and Encounters with Bergson(ism) in Spain.
"Fraser's book is a superb guide, erudite and insightful, to the dazzlingly complex world of Juan Benet. One of the greatest Spanish novelists, Benet, as Faulkner, created his own memorable world, one that Fraser makes accessible by his very original analysis of Benet's relation with Spanish history, his profession as an engineer, preoccupation with time, and fascination with maps. This is an authoritative and illuminating study of an absolutely masterful writer."—Randolph D. Pope, Commonwealth Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature, University of Virginia