The last time I saw Agustin Gómez-Arcos was July of 1997. He was in the midst of an extended summer sojourn at the home of his friends Miguel and Pilar in Tarragona. I remember wandering with him through the streets of this Catalan coastal city, accompanied by Miguel and Pilar's young sons. With Agustín as our guide we toured the city's Roman ruins, and he showed us his favorite mosaics at the local archeological museum. Agustín, as I remember him, was filled with vitality, delighting in the everyday activities of summer, buying fresh strawberries and tomatoes at an outdoor market and contemplating the spectacular views of the Mediterranean. He was also deeply immersed in the preparation of a new novel. On that summer's day in Tarragona, he shared with me a recurring dream that he was having. He was trapped in a large house, pursued throughout its many rooms and corridors by a rather disquieting and unyielding presence, which was attempting to bring to an end his exile in Paris and compel him to return definitively to Spain and to a life in the theater. On the surface, the dream suggested an unlikely, and even preposterous, scenario, for his long established career as a novelist in France, where he had lived for nearly twenty years, showed no signs of relenting. Jokingly, he blamed the dream on me, suggesting that, perhaps, in the recesses of his subconscious, he might have been ruminating about my upcoming visit to Tarragona. Aware of my interest in his work as a dramatist, he might have anticipated that I would somehow try to encourage him to write a new play. The dream, in effect, may well have held a smattering of prophetic truth or was, at the very least, a reflection of a small degree of inner torment with regard to his work in the theater and his conflicting, ambivalent relationship to Spain, in that despite the international acclaim and success attributed to his narrative work in French, Agustín always regarded himself, first and foremost, as a Spanish playwright. It was as a playwright that he waged his greatest battles with Francoist censorship, an experience that would shape much of his narrative work, and it was in the theater in Spain that his career as a writer began. It is also in his work in the theater, as I shall explain, that one can locate the origins of what is arguably his most original and significant work as a novelist, The Carnivorous Lamb (1975).

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Copyright © 2007 Arsenal Pulp Press. This Introduction first appeared in The Carnivorous Lamb.

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