Read By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño Free Online
Book Title: By Night in Chile|
The size of the: 7.30 MB
Edition: New Directions
Date of issue: December 1st 2005
ISBN 13: 9780811215473
The author of the book: Roberto Bolaño
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books:Sordel, Sordello, which Sordello?
‘Literature is like phosphorus,’ wrote Roland Barthes, ‘it shines with its maximum brilliance at the moment when it attempts to die.’ This view of literature existing at the precipice of the posthumous comes alive through Roberto Bolaño's Father Sebastian Urrutia and his deathbed confessions that make up the long night of By Night in Chile. Told in a single continuous paragraph—a style that hints with the flavor of Thomas Bernhard—Bolaño keeps the pressure and tension of his politically charged satire to a controlled maximum as if it were a horror novel while Urrutia takes us room by room through his haunted house of Chilean history. From his early days as a fledgling literary critic and poet spending time along with Pablo Neruda at the estate of Chile’s foremost critic, to travels in Europe and teaching Marxism in secret classes to the new regime, Urrutia attempts to rationalize his life and battles with his shame before the judgement of the shadowy ‘wizened youth’ that haunts him and his memories. Behind every curtain may wait a new horror, in every basement a sinister torture scene, yet these unspeakable terrors lurk just outside the candle-light of narrative, making them all the more sinister as we step along in the warm and surprisingly comical blaze. A perfect blend of all things Bolaño, By Night in Chile is a dazzling display of narrative that culminates upon the association and juxtaposition of seemingly separate elements to plunge a sharp dagger deep into the heart of Chile’s political climate.
‘That is how literature is made in Chile.’
By Night in Chile is the blessed union of Bolaño’s prose and poetry. Each sentence coils and crawls smoothly and effortlessly like a satirical snake through gardens abloom in allegory and metaphor. The novel in a method similar to how a poem serves as a near-hallucinogenic impression of reality, residing in the Garden of comical and bizarre events that function like a translucent veil both masking and giving glimpses into the Fall and damnation lying just beyond our grasp. The episode of falcons being used to murder pigeons before they can cover the cathedrals in excrement is a masterpiece of situational comedy, but also a startling metaphor for the Pinochet regime hunting down and snuffing out any opposition to their own structure¹ Bolaño is an expert at embodying the essence of a place or person, often stacking details together that build towards an impression that takes the reader off-guard and instills a sense of bewilderment and wonder at the image being presented. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Night, however, is the spirit of the short story—a form in which I find Bolaño to be at his best—and the episodic nature of the novel. Like walking through a nightmare, Urrutia recounts his life through swirling episodic reflections that blend into one the way a fever-dream seamlessly morphs from one notion to the next by riding a wave of emotion and produce a work greater than the parts of the whole through the way the episodes communicate and comment upon one another.
‘My silences are immaculate.’
While Urrutia, a member of a conservative priesthood Opus Dei which served fascist uprisings, has much to feel guilt over in his actions, it is his inactions that are most unbearable to him and the ‘wizened youth’. One has a moral obligation to take responsibilty for one’s actions, and that includes one’s words and silences, yes, one’s silences, because silences rise to heaven too, and God hears them, and only God understands and judges them, so one must be very careful with one’s silences. I am responsible in every way. The novel is much like jazz where the notes you don’t play are equally important to the ones that are played. Urrutia did his part, played his role and was never chastised for it. Even when he feared for his reputation after teaching the private lessons to Pinochet and his generals (a humorous sidenote is that the generals are far more concerned with the personal life of one attractive female theorist than her actual ideas), nobody seemed to care. However, it was his inability to stop it, to say no, to do anything to dam up the onslaught of history even for a moment that will serve as his everlasting personal tombstone.
Similar to Urrutia is the young novelist Maria Canales² who wishes to be a integral part of the literary scene, hosting salons and mingling with all the poets and politicians. Like Urrutia who was able to turn a blind eye to the horrors around him, Canales ignored the political interrogations and tortures going on in her very own basement during her salons. ‘I would have been able to speak out but I didn't see anything,’ Maria tells him, ‘I didn't know until it was too late.’ Willfully neglecting reality, we will all wind up bemoaning our fates, dismissing our responsibility, and realizing it is too late for all of us.
By Night in Chile is sure to haunt any reader who dare cross the threshold. A perfect elixer of all Bolaño's finest elements, this is a novel that dances and sways with the ethereal beauty of his poetry but punches with the raw intensity and eloquently abrasive power of his novels. History is making itself before our very eyes, and what are we doing to control the tides? Will we be a voice of reason, or simply march to the beat of whatever drum imposes itself. Will we get out alive, or will it be too late by the time we realize where we are. A frequent refrain echoing across the novel is critic Farewell’s line ‘Sordel, Sordello, which Sordello?’, dredging up Dante’s Sordello who was cast into purgatory for being unable to confess his sins before death. By Night in Chile is Urrutia’s feverish, disjointed confession, one that brings about the flames of hellfire in an attempt to avoid them. Bolaño's novel is full of pure rage and humor that never blinks or stands down.
And then the storm of shit begins.
¹It is interesting to note the names of the two gentlemen that recruit Urrutia for this mission are Mr. Raef and Mr. Etah. A simple reversal of the letters reveals the truth hiding within their power.
² Maria Canales and her husband’s story finds inspiration in that of Michael Townley and Mariana Callejas, which bears a near resemlance to the version found in this book.
I am highly indebted to a good friend for the full novel experience.
Read information about the authorFor most of his early adulthood, Bolaño was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain.
Bolaño moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector — working during the day and writing at night.
He continued with poetry, before shifting to fiction in his early forties. In an interview Bolaño stated that he made this decision because he felt responsible for the future financial well-being of his family, which he knew he could never secure from the earnings of a poet. This was confirmed by Jorge Herralde, who explained that Bolaño "abandoned his parsimonious beatnik existence" because the birth of his son in 1990 made him "decide that he was responsible for his family's future and that it would be easier to earn a living by writing fiction." However, he continued to think of himself primarily as a poet, and a collection of his verse, spanning 20 years, was published in 2000 under the title The Romantic Dogs.
Regarding his native country Chile, which he visited just once after going into voluntary exile, Bolaño had conflicted feelings. He was notorious in Chile for his fierce attacks on Isabel Allende and other members of the literary establishment.
In 2003, after a long period of declining health, Bolaño died. It has been suggested that he was at one time a heroin addict and that the cause of his death was a liver illness resulting from Hepatitis C, with which he was infected as a result of sharing needles during his "mainlining" days. However, the accuracy of this has been called into question. It is true that he suffered from liver failure and was close to the top of a transplant list at the time of his death.
Bolaño was survived by his Spanish wife and their two children, whom he once called "my only motherland."
Although deep down he always felt like a poet, his reputation ultimately rests on his novels, novellas and short story collections. Although Bolaño espoused the lifestyle of a bohemian poet and literary enfant terrible for all his adult life, he only began to produce substantial works of fiction in the 1990s. He almost immediately became a highly regarded figure in Spanish and Latin American letters.
In rapid succession, he published a series of critically acclaimed works, the most important of which are the novel Los detectives salvajes (The Savage Detectives), the novella Nocturno de Chile (By Night In Chile), and, posthumously, the novel 2666. His two collections of short stories Llamadas telefónicas and Putas asesinas were awarded literary prizes.
In 2009 a number of unpublished novels were discovered among the author's papers.
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