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Roberto Bolaño's FictionAn Expanding Universe$
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Chris Andrews

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168069

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168069.001.0001

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(p.94) 4 Aimlessness
Roberto Bolaño's Fiction

Chris Andrews

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores how Bolaño’s characters experience their selves in time. Typically, the more sympathetic characters are little inclined to fashion selves through storytelling or to live their lives in a narrative mode; they tend to be aimless. There are three reasons for this. One is psychological: in Bolaño’s fiction, the Episodic life, lived with no sense that one’s present self was there in the further past or will be there in the further future, is not intrinsically inferior to the Diachronic life, in which the self is felt to have long-term continuity. There is also a historical reason: many of the stories that Bolaño tells are of Latin American lives uprooted and disoriented by political turmoil. And, finally, he has a marked aesthetic preference for discontinuous, inconclusive, drifting narrative forms.

Keywords:   Bolaño’s characters, Episodic life, Diachronic life, Latin American lives, political turmoil, narrative forms

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