30 April 2009

Review: El Túnel

Ernesto Sabato's El Túnel is the first person account of an artist's murder of the one person who understood him best. At an exhibition, Juan Pablo Castel notices a woman captivated by the window that takes up a small section of one of his finished paintings. She is the only person who appears to have realized the importance of the window, which leads to him becoming to become slowly and utterly fixated on her.

He seeks her out in a somewhat roundabout matter, finally running into her seemingly by accident. He learns that she has been thinking about his painting all the time since that showing. They become romantically involved, but Castel feels she is not being completely honest with him. He begins to suspect she has other lovers, perhaps even that he´s just a plaything to her. He becomes increasingly obsessed with possessing her until his actions cross over into derangement.

This is a novel about obsession and man's futile struggle for meaning, and it is no surprise that Camus found it important enough to have translated into French. I must admit I was not entirely captivated by the story. Though I'm fond of eccentrics in literature (especially the obsessive kind), I often found Castel's obsessiveness more irritating than contagious. I also felt the metaphor of the tunnel as reflecting the essential loneliness of human existence was a bit on the literal side.

So, overall an interesting look at one man's obsession and how it reflects modern man's fruitless search for connection, but not entirely satisfying.

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