There was only one tunnel, dark and solitary: mine, the tunnel where my childhood, my youth, my whole life had passed. And in one of those clear fragments of the stone wall I had seen this girl and I had naively thought that she was coming through another tunnel parallel to mine, when in reality she belonged to the wide world, the limitless world of those who do not live in tunnels. He considers this observation deeply significant since it is a detail that he values as the most important aspect of the painting but to which nobody besides him and the woman pay any attention. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.

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Castel has documented the story of his crime and promises us a truthful and objective account. She disappears into the crowd before he can establish contact, but she continues to haunt his memories during the months that follow. Castel dreams of a chance encounter with this mysterious woman, his head addled with thoughts of how to handle the situation should he meet her in the street. A nervous shy individual by nature, Castel is terrified by the prospect of striking up a conversation with an unknown woman so he rehearses various scenarios in his mind.

And it is these thoughts which first alert us to the signs of paranoia in his narrative. Apparently it meant she often closed the door to talk on the telephone. But it was not likely she would close the door for trivial conversations with family friends: the reasonable deduction was that it was to have conversations like ours.

But that meant there were others like myself in her life. How many? And who? How many times had that damned split in my consciousness been responsible for the most abominable acts? While one part of me strikes a pose of humaneness, the other part cries fraud, hypocrisy, false generosity.

While one incites me to insult a fellow being, the other takes pity on him and accuses me of the very thing I am denouncing. While one urges me to see the beauty of the world, the other points out its sordidness and the absurdity of any feeling of happiness. The Tunnel is a terrifically chilling account of obsessive love, an insight into the mind of a man cut adrift from reality by irrational levels of doubts and paranoia.

In fact, there are times when it becomes easy to forget that we are listening to the account of a murderer. More than any other, however, I detest groups of painters. Partly, of course, because painting is what I know best, and we all know that we have greater reason to detest the things we know well.

They are a plague I have never understood. We want to know why Castel commits this act, what thoughts or images run through his mind in the immediate run-up to the murder. We understand that is Castel trapped in a tunnel of loneliness, dark and solitary, the one in which he has spent his childhood, his youth, his whole life.

And then, while I kept moving through my passageway, she lived her normal life outside, the exciting life of people who live outside, that curious and absurd life in which there are dances and parties and gaiety and frivolity.

Source: personal copy. Great review! Thanks, Karen. The story here sounds so very gripping. I do find stories of this level of obsession disquieting. It becomes a question of why and how Castel does it, what pushes him over the edge prompting him to murder this woman. It certainly captures that obsessive tunnel-vision very well…. What a superb review of a book that sounds absolutely engrossing. Not sure if I should thank you or not! Thanks, John. Never heard of this writer before ….

Definitely one for the list! I really like the sound of this! It takes skill to reveal the ending and then make the story be thrilling nonetheless. And to make a paranoid character sound rational. I read this a few years ago and it made my best of year list in I loved the part when several characters discuss Russian novels. As I think back on reading this, I remember feeling equal parts horrified and compelled to keep going.

What a mind blowing thought! I found myself veering between a mix of emotions on reading this novella. And the whole business over the letter was hilarious too, but in a excruciating way. In the end I felt haunted by his account, especially the closing scenes where you get a real sense of his dislocation from the rest of society. I loved the writing and that final quote anonymous screams in a desert of indifferent stars is brilliant.

I love that quote about the critics — I used that in my review too when I read this book a few years ago. I remember appreciating the book but not liking it very much — glad you enjoyed it!

I thought it a terrific book but found it chilling one minute and painfully funny the next. You did pick a quintessential Doom title to close out with, though, Jacqui! The writing here is great, Richard, but I fear The Tunnel may elicit similar feelings to those you experienced on reading On Heroes and Tombs. I was gripped by The Tunnel but found it chilling one minute and darkly comic the next, albeit in an excruciatingly painful way. It is very short and focused though, so you might want to give it a go at some point!

Thanks for hosting and dropping by again. Hello, Scott! I hope you had a great break, and I for one am looking forward to the resumption of your posts. I can understand your reaction as it is very chilling, and I felt quite haunted by those final pages in particular. Interesting story :. It is a strange creature, although I liked it well enough to want to revisit the story at some point.

I loved the painfully comic scenes, but then my sense of humour does tend to gravitate towards the dark side. You must read it, Grant!

Then it will join the pile of books I own and want to read. Someday I will read it, I hope. Although all I can see at the end of the tunnel is a big pile of unread books. But maybe The Tunnel will be part of my tunnel…. Well, The Tunnel does have brevity in its favour so it would be a quick read, one you could whip through in a couple of hours. I found myself flipping between different emotions on reading this novella.

I was gripped by Castel but found his actions chilling one minute and darkly comic the next, albeit in an excruciatingly painful way. I can see why you were reminded of it. Was there a blog event?

Oh, yes, the final scenes are particularly claustrophobic, nightmarish in a sense, but the novella as a whole is a blend of the obsessive, chilling and darkly comic. Right, the Argentinian thing: Richard at caravana de recuerdos has been hosting an event focusing on Argentinian and Uruguayan literature. That said, The Tunnel was particularly apt and a good one for me to close with!

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By Ernesto Sabato. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. Ernesto Sabato is best known for the second of his three novels, ''On Heroes and Tombs,'' a massive, intricate chronicle of murder and passion set in the Argentina of the 's. In his debut novel, ''The Tunnel,'' these themes are already on display, but in a simplified, almost fabulistic form. Sabato's narrator introduces himself, his crime and the object of his passion in the very first sentence: ''It should be sufficient to say that I am Juan Pablo Castel, the painter who killed Maria Iribarne.


The Tunnel Reader’s Guide

The story's title refers to the symbol for Castel's emotional and physical isolation from society, which becomes increasingly apparent as Castel proceeds to tell from his jail cell the series of events that enabled him to murder the only person capable of understanding him. Castel's obsession begins in the autumn of when at an exhibition of his work he notices a woman focusing on one particularly subtle detail of his painting "Maternidad" "Maternity". He considers this observation deeply significant since it is a detail that he values as the most important aspect of the painting but to which nobody besides him and the woman pay any attention. Missing out on an opportunity to approach her before she leaves the exhibition, he then spends the next few months obsessing over her, thinking of ways to find her in the immensity of Buenos Aires , and fantasizing about what to say to her. Ultimately, after seeing her entering a building which he presumes to be her place of employment, he considers how to go about asking her about the detail in the painting. It later becomes clear that she is married to a blind man named Allende and lives on Posadas Street in the northern part of the city. Out of this disconnect, Castel's obsessive thoughts lead him to all sorts of irrational doubts about the love he has come to believe that they have for one another.


The Tunnel by Ernesto Sábato – review

The more he forces his way into her life — discovering that she has a blind husband and an ex-lover who killed himself — the more jealous he becomes. A perverse effect of the candour in Castel's retrospective account is that it almost makes you forget he's a murderer and a rapist, it becomes clear. His pithy misanthropy offers readers an uncomfortable, reckless pleasure as the Buenos Aires art scene "THE CRITICS… a plague I have never understood" , the city's postal service and people who give to charity all come in for a caustic kicking. It is hard not to relish his morose wit: "I have always had a tenderness and compassion for children especially when through supreme mental effort I have tried to forget that they will be adults like anyone else.


Ernesto Sabato : The Tunnel

The vignette, which seems to the painter to be laden with meaning, escapes the attention of every visitor to the exhibition except one: a beautiful, chestnut—haired woman in her mid—twenties who, the artist imagines, might be the only person in the world capable of understanding both him and his work. As she vanishes into the crowd, the painter suppresses a desire to call out to her and is at once plunged into misery. He is convinced that, in a teeming city of millions, he will never see her again. And yet, miraculously, he later spots her entering an office building and, as she waits for an elevator, blurts out a series of fumbling questions that form the beginning of a relationship that will transform both their lives.

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