By César Aira
Day-by-day conversations in outdoors cafes with cultured neighbors will help make truth a bit extra genuine. regrettably, although, in the course of one such dialog, one guy spots a gold Rolex watch on a television cleaning soap opera's goatherd. This likely small absurdity units off alarms: unusual sensations of deception, misery, and incipient insanity. the 2 men's uneasiness quickly turns into a nightmare because the television event advances with a real-life plot -- concerning a mutant pressure of killer algae -- to take over the realm! The Conversations, a truth inside a fiction inside a parallel truth, is hilariously humorous and strangely touching.
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The significance of this moment which critics have found so difficult to account for is that symbolic meanings are like explanations of people: inadequate. The relationship between a narrative tone which evokes George Eliot and an almost existentialist consciousness of the individual's isolation is, like the incongruities between Victorian solemnity and permissive irresponsibility, a playful but crucial and central principle of The Bell. Several of the characters and especially Michael and Dora are convincing and moving characters of the kind that B.
Johnsonian impatience: I do not know. This story I am telling is all imagination. These characters I create never existed outside my own mind. Ifl have pretended until now to know my characters' minds and innermost thoughts, it is because I am writing in (just as I have assumed some of the vocabulary and 'voice' of) a convention universally accepted at the time of my story; that the novelist stands next to God. He may not know all, yet he tries to pretend that he does. But I live in the age of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Roland Barthes; if this is a novel, it cannot be a novel in the modern sense of the word.
Joining in, as we are invited, we might say that the authority is harder to abdicate than Fowles thinks; that his whole digression is authoritarian, that writing itself is so, in the sense he means. velists are meant to help, not to confuse the issue. And finally 'Oh, but come on-' and break off, since he has thought of what we are saying himself. There is another serious jolt to the course of the narrative at the end of Chapter 44 and the start of 45· Repeated meetings with the John Fowles: The French Lieutenant's Woman 27 unhappy though formidable Sarah have made a conquest of Charles.