The production of Ernesto Castro is beginning to be one of the national literary phenomena of the moment. I justify the statement with two (I think) undeniable issues that run through his work up to now. The first is the prolific stage in which the young philosopher from Madrid has been immersed since he launched his book on the trap back in 2019. Since then he has revised his ‘Against postmodernity’, expanding it considerably; he has posted ‘Ethics, Aesthetics and Politics’; ‘Jantippe or to die’his first novel of which its continuation is already being published, ‘Perictone or Liberty’and his doctoral thesis on postcontinental realism and this ‘The Great Pan is dead’ that concerns us today and that, as a good admirer of his informative work, I have read carefully like the rest of his work.
In this sense, Castro himself recognizes in ‘The Great Bread…’, which for a long time was seen at the crossroads to which the passage of time submits all of us who write and create when the years begin to arrive and we do not have the work that we believe we should have published by then. A drought that devastated him, this one not caused by climate change, which has already passed away. Ernesto Castro He took refuge in front of his desk and began to dance a rain dance that has allowed him to publish at a devilish pace, creating a vast corpus for his age. Fertility must have ended at least part of her doubts about her creative ability.
The other issue has flourished as a result of the writer Castro’s promise becoming a reality. Here some of his shortcomings as an author come to light, I don’t know if they are caused by the speed at which he is trying to publish or by a simple lack of know-how. And it is that, as I already commented in this magazine when I reviewed ‘Jantipa’, Ernesto Castro has discovered a narrative vocation for which neither he nor the readers were prepared. In ‘The Great Pan is dead’, a hybrid of texts with different characteristics outlined over the years, we find ourselves with a brilliant informative and essay exhibition that goes hand in hand with a “narrative self” that is not up to the fame that precedes it. The book, which is structured symmetrically, opens and closes with exhibitions of this “I”, in a prologue that occupies more than a hundred pages, which is really hard to finish; and with some newspapers, these more charged with emotion, but whose style is clumsy in his effort. The book is to be cut by head and foot, leaving in between a precious example of intelligent and shrewd contemporary thought; daring and original, which has all the doses of personality it needs due to its own choice of themes and a crystalline prose through which Castro’s level as a thinker is clearly seen. A level that, I insist, is in check when we read Castro narrate. Perec’s famous writing exercises with limitations demonstrate that, many times, the imagination should not fly but should be conducted along a previously outlined road. Ernesto Castro shows it in every work in which he lets his pen run and puts it at the service of himself. Furthermore, the worst thing about his initial dissertation is not only the dissertation itself, but its lack of content and coherence with the rest of the work. He does not improve or enrich the rest of this ‘Pan’, which in this case becomes a transcript of its author: holding on to the novel, in his case, has a lot to try not to grow.
Especially painful is his comparison between Joyce and his ‘Ulises’ as a way of bringing Homer to the 20th century and his Platonic trilogy when doing the same in the 21st century with Aristotle’s teacher. It seems unbelievable that a scholar like Castro commits such audacity.
Let us put, on the other hand, the ambitious development of the author’s own thought who, as the only relatively young interesting intellectual in the panorama of Spanish thought, feels at ease not only to approach the great issues raised by his elders, but also to define rightly those of his generation. In fact, the text in which he questions the very concept of generation is one of his most accurate essays on this ‘Bread’. Another original approach in his approach is his story of two particular cities, which sins again when it becomes personal.
Ernesto Castro establishes himself as an author and as an intellectual and shows his shortcomings as a narrator in this ‘The Great Pan is dead’. Thinking about it, many great writers -I am thinking of young Marías- strengthened his writing by writing and publishing, instead of blurring pages and throwing them away.