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Synopsis

A classic of contemporary Catalan literature, and a haunting and satirical portrait of a vanishing age, Llorenc¸ Villalonga’s The Dolls’ Room concerns the decline of Don Toni and Dona Maria Antonia Bearn: aristocrats, cousins, husband and wife, and members of the decadent, age-old ruling class of the town that bears their name. Their story is told by the nai¨ve family priest, Don Joan, who was taken under Don Toni’s wing as a schoolboy. Describing the shabby grandeur of his benefactors’ lives—their ancient, rundown family mansion, their grand but ruinous excursions to Paris and Rome, and the mysterious events that lead to their deaths—the humbly devout Joan is continually challenged, and perhaps titillated, by Don Toni’s impious personality, his defiance of church authority, and his scandalous affairs. Partly condemning and partly admiring his devilish mentor, the pure-minded Don Joan’s lurid “biography” of the Bearns is a testament to the eternal attractiveness of the libertine, and the lengths to which we go in justifying our own worst impulses.

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