Literature and Revolution

-by Fernando Alegria-

translated by D. Ohmans
(c) copyright 1997

Text imprint - Mexico City, Fondo de Cultura Economica, (c1970)

                           Table of Contents

       I.    Literature and Revolution
       II.   Portrait and Self portrait:
             The Hispano-american Novel Confronted with Society
       III.  "Der Zauberberg" in the Literature of Latin America
       IV.   Miguel Angel Asturias, Novelist of the Old and the
             New Worlds
       V.    Alejo Carpentier:  Magic Realism
       VI.   Rayuela:  or, Order out of Chaos
       VII.  Cesar Vallejo:  The Mestizo Masks
       VIII. Parra anti Parra
       IX.   Anti-literature
       X.    Antipoetry

Chapter 6 - Rayuela: or, Order Out of Chaos

     Julio Cortazar says in the "Table of directions" that he placed at the
beginning of "Rayuela"(1): "This book is many books, but, mostly, it is two
books." One, to follow his instructions, may be read straightaway from Chapter
one to 56, while the other is read combining chapters according to the "Table"
and in the process losing Chapter 55.
     This introduction will put unprepared readers on their guard. A novel for
professors, they immediately say. Look again at those words and fill in:
structuralist professors. In this there need be neither an insult to majesty
nor a spurning of the author. We deal with a natural reaction. Put in your
hands a book of more than 600 pages that must be read with a plan and a
guide.... Your hands themselves will tremble.
     On the surface, Cortazar's literary play brings to mind Cervantes, for its
intermission detours and dialogues with the reader.(2) Similarly, Lawrence
Stern, the author of "Tristram Shandy," has been mentioned, and the most
imaginative think of James Joyce. A professor runs them all through his
     I set myself to reading nevertheless, and left the door open just in case.
At 100 pages, more or less, Cortazar closed it without my noticing. I knew
that I was captive and did nothing to escape. Two reasons: one, the
devastating reflection that our world, with humanity on board, is going
straight downhill. As much on the philosophic plane as on the ethical, and
that most subtle plane, of the revolutionary writer who alludes to existing man
with an assassin's clarity and terrorist erudition. The other is by reason of
humanity, in that I understand the affinity between Horacio and Maggie, am
literally moved to tears by their rotten romance, by their pain as of clowns
being beaten--like Cesar Vallejo-- having done nothing, that is, nothing more
than complete the trip to the cemetery, loving and destroying. As it should
     The book becomes a companion, then, greedy and turbulent. We forgive it
even the sermons and internal disquisitions, as we forgive our dearest ones
their criminal deviations when they recount for the thousandth time how it was
that the powder was discovered. We laugh aloud at the Stern-apparatus and the
barbarisms of the language. We advance rapidly to Ronald-Babs, to linotype
figures, to Perico, the Spaniard by force, as completely incandescent.... We
remain in the family, held by the short hairs by poor Maggie, to Pola Paris and
its youngsters. Ah, what memories of so marvelous a dusty barrio, of the
beautiful children, the other side of the Horacio medallion and Maggie's
complement, of the sublime lunatics.... Then, we have begun to read the book
by Cortazar. Not the two books mentioned in the preface: the book. And there
is only: the one fable of an incredibly tragic love (consciousness of
"life-chaos" versus tacit acceptance of chaos as order) whose action occurs in
"Paris," a metaphor, first, and in Buenos Aires, another metaphor, next.
Perhaps the same metaphor in both cases, but the second is the boomerang of the
     The narrator is, at times, a discursive Horacio, dialectical,
metaphysical, thirsty, bitter, self- inquisitor and real inquisitor, but one
with tears in his eyes, virile in an unkempt way, desolate and noble, with a
chest full of Gauloise smoke and tenderness. At other times, the narrator is
omniscient, a subject with a cruel eye, satirical, erudite, rejecting, an
active third person empowered to push Horacio into the pit. Novelist. Add to
these two individuals a third, Morelli, who expounds the theory of the novel
and the language which underlies "Rayuela." A sort of Ezra Pound, making
meanings, or a badly dressed Cortazar, that is to say, slightly out of focus.
Finally, consider it a court presided over by Traveler and his inevitable
     The professor John Loveluck, thinking about form and
 content, has said in reference to "Rayuela": "The main thrust
of the book is the fusion of its form, or non- form, with the variety of the
represented world, the world as change, the world as kaleidoscope."(4)
     Open form. We agree. However, the Rayuela game has always had a definite
form ("to go to Heaven, you need to...") and, we propose, this Rayuela has and
does not have that form. It has it between Chapters one and 56 if read straight
through. After the 56th a wing opens revealing as if from a sack a genial
assortment of "interchangeable chapters." From a trapeze it evolves into an
arena and, all of a sudden, the arena becomes a sand clock. We could imagine
the form of this novel to be that of a pendulum or balance: moving between two
extremes over an abyss, it keeps rising and lowering, exiting and entering
eternally from Chapter 58 to 131, from 131 to 58, upon an indefinable axis. To
comprehend this form in constant movement it is necessary to analyze its
premises and judge how they contribute to the balance. I propose the following
scheme: 1. The philosophical problem: theory of knowledge. Ontological
speculation. Metaphysical projections. Symbolic personages: Horacio, Maggie,
Traveler, Talita, Morelli. Improbable characters: at the Club. 2. The aesthetic
problem: theory of language and theory of the novel. Cortazar-Morelli.
Application to "Rayuela." Linguistic exercises. 3. Identification of names and
literary sources for the notes to an academic edition. 4. And, lastly, if
anyone possesses the destructive instinct in the measure of a Minister of
Health, as Ceferino Piriz would say, it would include a study of Cortazar's
satire against the traditional Spanish and Hispano-american novel, without
forgetting the veiled allusions to Eduardo Mallea and the open ones to Jorge
Luis Borges, and the reason why no allusion is made to Ernesto Sabato. These
would be remarks in the manner of Julian Marias. Personally, I am attracted to
only the first two points of this scheme.
     We shall examine the first of the problems set by Cortazar between
Chapters one and 56..., and continued in the form of a philosophic dialogue in
Chapter 99.
     From the speculations of Horacio, the inquisitor, it is deduced that man
left his path by following the mandates of "reason," for it, in reality, leads
down the road of lies, hypocrisy, renunciation, and the absurd: error disguised
as order.(5) To rebel against this--the violent lie of our civilization--
signifies not necessarily to discover the opposite road, given that in the act
of rebellion we arrive at an order which, at bottom, cannot be that, but the
other side of disorder or, to use a metaphor, the blind side of the mirror.
From there, desperation. From there, the urgency of action, and because he who
acts is a desperado nothing is achieved except to wound and destroy what is
loved; the being who, by natural impulse and condition of innocence, resolved
the tragedy by living it. Who lives? Maggie. Who lives is, in truth, who
founders, agonizes and perishes in the madness that is our fate, who gives
without asking anything, in an act of love. Who perishes? Maggie, because we do
not live for free and the price must be paid and the price goes with the
knowledge that we have come alone to watch the synopsis of a cheap drama. The
play rises in value when we comprehend that we are in the middle of the scene.
There is, then, no other path for the authentic outcast than to tear at his
clothing, the inner and the outer, crying with love for the world which
vanishes with a puff or a leap. Horacio.
     We insist on some of these ideas in connection with the demise of
Rocamadour, one of the great chapters of "Rayuela" (the other two culminating
chapters, in my judgment, are 56, the dialogue of Traveler and Horacio, and 41,
with Talita in the foreground: in these Cortazar appears with all his knives
sharpened and batteries charged, attacking, here, in the plenitude of his
powers). Composition of place: Maggie's room. Rocamadour, her son, whom she
cares for and watches with the tender slowness of total devotion, expires while
she converses with Horacio. She does not notice. Horacio notes the happening
and is silent. The dialogue is transformed into a conversation to the degree
that other people arrive and, at dawn, it becomes a philosophical seminar.
Theme: the theory of knowledge and related problems, reality, the order in
chaos, the place of man, in the grave or among the living.
     Everything occurs darkly in the atmosphere both static and hushed, a sort
of Platonic cave. The lighting shifts, a match is lit and at once illuminates
the body at the foot of the room; an image is created that will live for a
moment until another replaces it, as one picture supersedes another at a
painting exhibit.
     The discussion is brilliant, interminable, interrupted (assaulted, you
could say), by an oldster who lives upstairs and who, like God, beats his cane
upon the world to protest what happens beneath his feet. Taking part: Ronald,
North American, defending a notion of immediate reality (we suppose); Etienne
and Gregorovius, as an official chorus; Horacio, whose premise is defined as
follows - existence is lived from crisis to crisis and reason presides over a
false order. Gregorovius reverts to a metaphor: "In reality, we are as in a
comedy when one arrives at the theater during the second act. Everything is
very beautiful but nothing is understood. The actors speak and act without our
knowing why or because of what. We project on them our own ignorance, and they
seem like lunatics who enter and exit too decisively. Shakespeare already said
it, anyway, and if he did not he should have."(6)
     The debate produces an echo in Etienne and another in Horacio and another,
in turn, in Cortazar. It is understood: it is the same person changing masks
in the darkness. Or four people looking into the same turbid pond of
water and being reflected together.
     The world has become absurd, says the tango, and perhaps it is because in
an oversight we handed it over to Reason. Great possibilities here. The
absurd dressed in costumes and ornaments that we learn to venerate until we
forget the ruse and we accept the disguise as true reality. We shall take it
apart piece by piece, entirely. We shall start again. How? For what? Then
the problem begins again.
     Maggie discovers that the child has perished. God keeps banging his cane
on the floor above. The seminar concludes. A brief sequence of French cinema,
and Horacio disappears.
     The impression remains that Cortazar, like Camus in "The Plague" and
Sartre in "No Exit," has written a morality play: a sermon in dialogue,
profound, disturbing, pathetic. Ah! says the reader, we have here another
Argentine essayist who needs the novel to express himself. Nevertheless, it is
evident that Cortazar is not an essayist in the manner of Mallea, for example.
The truth is that in writing his essay in the form of a novel Cortazar denudes
and exposes himself: a bleeding strip-tease, pinned to the cross.
     The theory of knowledge becomes, to that extent, a visceral problem. Sex,
humor, love, violence, passion, humiliation, anger, agony, desperation - all
are conditions of a man who looks at contemporary society and discovers in it,
without much surprise, his own visage. In the negative of this self-portrait
lies its humanity. I think that Cortazar "feels" the tragic purity of
disorder, the smoothly violent despair at betrayal, the intrinsic heroism of
the human fiasco, more than the Argentine existentialists, and reproduces it
with a more liberated art, at once more angelic and more sinister.
Cortazar has the knack of flight, the valor that cuts off the supporting
branch, the black humor...that sets traps in the meadows, in a word, the
ferocious stance which differentiates condemned artists from worried
philosophers. I may not have explained myself. Camus or Sartre convince and
intrigue me. Cortazar in Chapter 56 of "Rayuela" moves me. I feel here a
human dimension that is not only part of a brilliant structure, but basically a
greatness for suffering, love and compassion, a clear sign of knowing how to
shoulder his cross and, therefore, of carrying it always.
     The philosophical basis of this desperate attitude is summarized in
another seminar: Chapter 99. Horacio utters the key phrases: "I would say to
begin that this technological reality which men of science and readers of
France-Soir accept today, this world of cortisone, gamma rays and plutonium
fission, has as little to do with reality as The Tale of the Rose.... Man,
after having expected everything from intelligence and spirit, feels as if
betrayed, obscurely conscious that his arms have turned against him, that the
culture, the 'civilitas,' has brought him to this dead-end where the barbarism
of science is no more than a comprehensible reaction.Pardon the
     Horacio asks pardon for the language but not for the metaphor: "The
admiration of certain types for an electron microscope seems to me no more
fecund than that of the guides toward the miracles of Lourdes. To believe in
what is called matter, to believe in what is called spirit, to exist in
Emmanuel or pursue courses in Zen, to view human destiny as an economy problem
or as pure absurdity, the list is long, the selection multiple. But the mere
fact that there may be selection and that the list is long suffices to
demonstrate that we are in pre-history and pre-humanity."(8)
     To seek the truth is a collective act, not an individual one: "...I feel
that my salvation, supposing that I could attain it, must be also the salvation
of all, to the last of men."(9)
     However, that salvation which seems possible in the realm...of speculation
and upon the metaphysical scale, is pierced like a window receiving the first
rays of sunlight in the morning: "I awoke and saw the dawning light in the
slats of the blinds. It emerged from so within the night that I had an upsurge
within myself, the shock of approaching a new day with its same presentations,
its mechanical indifference each time - consciousness, sensation of light,
opening the eyes, the blinds, the alcove.
     "In that second, with the omniscience of the sleepwalker, I measured the
horror of all that so astounds and enchants the religions: the eternal
perfection of the cosmos, the incalculable revolution of the globe upon its
axis. Nausea, insupportable sensation of involvement. I am obliged to
tolerate the sun rising every day! It is monstrous. It is inhuman."(10)
     It is understood that for characters like Horacio, Maggie, Traveler and
Talita to say things like these is to assume a symbolic attitude and meaning.
It is irony that approaches the humoristic. The anti-rhetoric which creates
the rhetoric.
     Horacio is the man of thought, the supreme witness who observes, reflects
in a loud voice, judges and condemns. Self-inquisitor. Maggie defines him in
one phrase: each and everyone "exists" and "is" somewhere, while only Horacio
"is not a fixture." Still, it would be an error to consider him uninvolved
with the ruin that he comprises. We do not forget that he provokes it and know
that he provokes it. Horacio is the only one of the group who recognizes it
and flees. His double, Traveler, behaves like Maggie: allowing existence to
flow through his veins. The questions are superfluous. Why think up answers?
     The contrast between Horacio and Maggie, that personal duel that arcs over
the philosophic conflict, or to put it in Horacio's words, the quarrel against
the world, is capsulized in a brief dialogue in Chapter 20. Maggie and Horacio
present it simply: "My dangers are only metaphysical," said (Horacio)
Oliveira. "Believe me, they won't take me from the water with hooks. I shall
burst from an intestinal occlusion, from an Asian virus or in a Peugeot 403."
     "I don't know," said Maggie. "I think at times of suicide but see that I
won't do it. Don't think it is only for Rocamadour, before him it was the
same. The idea of killing myself always makes me well. But you, who don't
think of it... Why do you say: metaphysical dangers? There are also
metaphysical rivers, Horacio. You'll throw yourself into one of those
     We all know that, in accord with the rules of the game, Horacio is the
thinker and, therefore, will not suicide. Maggie, on the other hand... What
is curious is that she too rationalizes in her pathetic letter to Rocamadour
and filters the world in accordance with certain categories. They emerge
despite herself: "I no longer cry, I'm content, but it is so difficult to
understand things, I need so much time to understand a little that which
Horacio and the others understand at once, but they who understand everything
so well cannot understand you and me...
     "...because the world doesn't matter if one has no strength to keep
choosing something true, if one arranges it like a chest of drawers and puts
you on one side, Sunday on the other, mothers' love, the Montparnasse station,
the train, the visit that must be made. I don't feel like leaving."(12)
     Maggie chooses something true. We have here the difference between her
and Horacio. She neither vacillates in recognizing it nor doubts in choosing.
Horacio will be tempted to choose until the end and his indecision will be that
of the player who awaits with one foot in the air his entrance into the Rayuela
     In the second part of the novel the conflict which seemed to revolve upon
a single axis begins to make unforeseen turns. Maggie moves towards a partial
transfiguration of her fantasy, while Horacio joins a Passion trinity.
Traveler appears as the half of Horacio that is saved by tacitly
accepting the rules of the trap: " bottom Traveler was that which he
should have been with a little less of cursed imagination, a man of the
territory..., precariously false, and how much beauty was in those eyes when
they had filled with tears..., how much love in that arm reaching around the
waist of a woman. Oliveira thought while responding to the friendly gestures
of Dr. Ovajero de Ferraguto (with somewhat less friendship), probably the only
possible way of escaping the territory was by entering it up to the
     Horacio, in Traveler's place, would think of sabotaging the trap from
within, diagnosed as a citizen and good neighbor, but that function, with what
it entails of compromise and renunciation, would be unacceptable: "...nothing
can be denounced if it is done within the system to which the denounced
     Talita, for whom Horacio cannot stop seeing Maggie, is the balance of the
scale, but a balance arm that unexpectedly and capricious tilts to one extreme.
Horacio has installed himself with Traveler and Talita and, thereby, involves
Maggie too. Given, then, is the pathos of violence. The relation between Talita
and Traveler is clarified: they are united by a deep love for...Horacio. They
feel that they may fall apart due to him; Horacio himself asks to be ejected.
It is impossible: the trinity exists as a function of the forces that try to
break it.
     The parabola used by Cortazar to define this drama is a good demonstration
of his implacable virtuosity. It consists of a circus act performed in the
street, Talita on horseback in a ring, between two windows of neighboring
buildings, with an audience of children who curiously watch the somersaults,
and two men at opposite ends, feeling that when she moves, the world also is
moved. The living, as Horacio would say. Talita is persistently alienated
from her husband and approaches the lover's arms, but the "force of destiny"
detains her and moves her towards Traveler who, with an upset voice, receives
her exclaiming "You're back!" in a sanguine parody of the spell which does away
with them.
     From the circus, logically, the lovers pass to the asylum. There cannot
be any other place for the unfolding to this penny-toss. The scene of the
crime, so to say.
     The terms of the madness are fully delineated by the narrator. Horacio,
from his cell of jealousy, sees how Maggie endeavors to enter the Rayuela
heaven and how she fails. Talita leaves Traveler's bed and goes in search of
Horacio, which leads her to the asylum morgue (a place where the beer and
flakes of humanity congregate) and there they kiss. But, foreseeing that his
hours are numbered because Traveler would kill him, he returns to his room and,
helped by a patient, arranges a system of defenses with strings and traps. He
places himself precariously on the window sill, and waits. Traveler arrives.
Horacio receives him behind his web of threads. Below, in the patio,
authorities, guards and lunatics witness the duel, fascinated. Moreover, it is
a combat consummated not in a sacrifice, but instead in a dialogue.
     Horacio, shaken, seeking desperately what he destroyed while thinking to
create it, is disarmed before the eyes of his friend who observes him crying.
In that call and in Traveler's tenderness he is defended against the true
approaching enemy. Horacio comprehends the reality of his double: he is the
one saved by living the error, within the error, or in a truth no longer his.
Horacio's desperation, the insupportable moral suffering, the real presence of
Maggie who fills him with smoke and sorrow, the conviction that he destroyed
the living while he sought to understand it, Traveler's emotion in recognizing
that impotence, are not the contents of an essay nor the curve of a parabola,
but are factors for profound recreation in the drama of contemporary humanity.
     Just as some of the "jazzistas" at the Club seem to be literary
projections of a polemic that Cortazar exercises against himself, so those
gentlemen of the circus and the asylum appear to be autonomous desperates. I
feel that Horacio's anguish and Traveler's compassion enclose the lesson of
humanity of this book.
     Summarizing: the fundamental conflict posed by Cortazar is that of the
mid-century man who tries to reason out in multiple plane, registers and tones,
the unreason of the human condition. For those who identify today with that
problematic, "Rayuela" exerts a cathartic power, something like the defining
function that "The Magic Mountain" had around 1930. The presentation of the
ideological conflict is in both novels polarizing, dialectical, ironic,
brilliant. Yet Rayuela is a game that resembles Russian roulette, Magic
Mountain a game of solitaire. Thomas Mann defends a humanist position joking
against it. Cortazar recognizes existential truth as a capital sentence.
Furthermore, it must be made very clear that, in the person of his narrator,
Cortazar is committed and if we wish to accompany him it must be militantly.
We have here a satire of the grand style: if we are to play, we play with
fire, in the supreme circus with clowns wearing real nooses and the human
cannon being charged with dynamite.
     We now consider the aesthetic problem, the theory of language and of the
novel. Cortazar recognizes the presence of a magical eye which analyzes,
regulates and determines from within the form of "Rayuela." He says: "It is
inevitable that part of your work would be a reflection upon the problem of
writing it."(15) The reference is to Morelli, the old, broken, moribund writer,
whose "manuscripts" fall into the hands of Oliveira and company. The existence
of Morelli as a character in the novel allows Cortazar self-criticism with
subtlety and irony ("He was telling Perico that Morelli's theories were not
exactly original").(16)
     The position of Cortazar-Morelli with respect to the language may be
synthesized as follows: just as reality already gives to man a lifestyle, that
is, a form that he must accept without protest, a fixed path, a coercion, so
also man receives language ready-made, falsified by all types of ethical and
aesthetic subterfuges. It is necessary, then, to return to language its rights,
to purge it, discipline it, as a hygienic measure.
     "Morelli understands that mere aesthetic writing is an evasion and a lie,
which results in reviving the bovine scholar, the type who wants no problems
without solutions, or invokes false problems that permit him to suffer
comfortably in his armchair, without involvement in the drama that also should
be his own."(17)
     The task consists in reconquering the primordial and elemental meanings,
in destroying all precious rhetoric in the literature, disarming its traps,
delivering fragments as existence delivers them, giving a complex of facets for
the ready to absorb, re-creating, as Unamuno says, and conferring some meaning
upon them. Referring to the genre of the novel, Horacio says: "Morelli is an
artist who has a special idea of art, consisting more than anything in casting
down the usual forms, current practice for all good artists. For example, he
explodes the fairy tale novel. The book that is read from beginning to end like
a good boy. You already will have seen that he cares less and less about the
connection of the part, that by which one word brings forth the next...."(18)
     The reader must be an accomplice who hears murmurs beneath the surface and
to whom esoteric rhythms emerge. The result will be a Rayuela: "To provoke,
to create a text without a lineage..., minutely anti-novelistic (although not
anti-novel). Without avoiding the grand effects of the genre when the
situation requires it, but remembering the counsel of Gide, 'ne jamais profiter
de l'elan acquis.' Like all the formal creations of the West, the novel
contents itself with a closed order. Resolutely in opposition, to search here
too for the opening and thereby to cut at the root all systematic constructions
of character and situation. Method - irony, incessant self-criticism,
incongruity, imagination in the service of no one."(19)
     Required is a narrative that "catalyzes the confused and badly understood
notions" for the reader who is the novelist's traveling companion. Irony, the
use of material in gestation and living immediacy gives origin to the "comic
novel" (and what is Ulysses?) that transpires "like those dreams in which at
the margin of a trivial occurrence we sense a more serious charge that we
cannot always succeed in disentangling."(20)
     Inevitably we are given the norms, the sense, the parts and the structure
of the novel as an expression of reality and simultaneously, the theory is put
into practice.(21) And, as if they were insignificant, the key citations of
Morelli are considered by Oliveira as "pedantic." The circle closes and left,
in passing, are the sources of the miracle: Gide, Joyce, Gombrowicz and from
there, like apparitions at the wrong seance, Pound and Kafka.
     The circle to which I refer is that which integrates a novel with its
anti-novel, a circle of a dialectical nature whose force, to that extent,
derives from contrary poles. I do not wish to suggest any necessity in the
process. Cortazar is sincere and efficient in his intent to destroy from
within, his anti-novel attacking the first 56 chapters of "Rayuela" from
multiple angles with time bombs and hand grenades. Nevertheless, the ordinary
reader (I think not of the bovine reader nor the macho reader, but of the men
and women who read) may leave the interchangeable chapters as food for critics
and professors, and not deal with the open novel--which Cortazar offers--
preferring the closed novel: the story of Maggie and Horacio that unfolds a
little in the manner of a fairy tale. This is the "Rayuela" commented upon in
public. In the other grow abundant roots of a courtly rhetoric. From time to
time Cortazar speaks from the heart, removing his hat, competing favorably with
the singers and the traditional Argentine and Spanish novel....
     I do not think that "Rayuela" terminates any novelistic form that is not
already closed. Nor do I think that Cortazar has invented any new form. That
is obvious. Proust, Tolstoy, Gide, as we have said, are undeniable antecedents
of his experiment. Furthermore, Cortazar does not propose these endeavors. He
leaves them, instead, to Morelli.
     But there is another "Rayuela" that interests me, perhaps, more than any:
I refer to the book which, planted in the human condition of Horacio and his
people, responds with mortal clarity and suicidal honesty to the basic
questions of the given generation in rebellion against the bourgeois
Establishment and its rotten social norms and formulas. There is something of
Guevara, of Eldridge Cleaver, in the language of Cortazar when he speaks of a
generation that refuses to accept a manufactured and prepared and digested
existence, a criminal coercion, and renounces an undisguised future of setting
the blinds and traps of the Matadero. Cortazar speaks of action out of
desperation, of protest beyond order, of no compromise, of authenticity in all
styles. This is not, then, a Rayuela exclusively for hippies, beats, zens,
dropouts, and turned-ons. It is a Rayuela game that all may play: innocents
and condemned, without exception.
     A hard book, mild, bleeding, sad, sweet and anguished, "Rayuela" responds
to a generation who lose giving noble combat to erase the lies of contemporary
society and, in the process, erasing all the familiar masks. If this sounds
too serious and not literary enough, and in its severity could betray
Cortazar's intentions, we shall conclude repeating the words of Morelli's
master, the Polish anti-novelist Withold Gombrowicz (22):
     "These then, are the fundamental, prime and philosophical reasons that
induce me to build the work upon a base of loose parts--conceiving the work as
a particle of the work--and treating as means a fusion of physical parts and
parts of the soul - while Humanity as a whole I treat as a mixture of parts.
But if anyone were to make this objection: that this partial conception of
main is not, in truth, any conception, but instead a muddle, confusion, ruse
and deception, and that I, instead of subjecting myself to the severe rules and
canons of Art, am trying to mock them by means of irresponsible inventions,
diversions and devices, I would answer yes, it is true, just those are my
propositions. And, I swear--I do not hesitate to confess it--I wish to deviate
as far from your art, sirs, as from you yourselves. For I cannot bear to be
together with that art, with your conceptions, your artistic activity and with
all your artistic medium!"(23)

1 My citations are to "Rayuela" (Buenos Aires, Sudamerica, 1963).
2 Cf. Ana Maria Barrenchea, "Rayuela, una busqueda a partir de cero" ("Sur,"
Buenos Aires, v.288, 1964).
3 Cf. Manuel Pedro Gonzalez, "Coloquio de la novel hispano-americana" (Mexico
City, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 1967).
4 "Aproximacion a Rayuela," Revista Iberoamericana, LXV, Jan.-Apr. 1968,
5 Cf. Ernesto Sabato, "El escritor y sus fantasmas," chap. "Las letras y las
artes en la crisis de nuestro tiempo" (Buenos Aires, Aguilar, 1963, pp.56-89)
where this idea is expounded with a philosophic and historical basis.
6 "Rayuela," op.cit., p.191.
7 Ibid., pp.506-507.
8 Ibid., p.507.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid., p.426.
11 Ibid., p.109
12 Ibid., pp.222-223.
13 Ibid., p.402.
14 Ibid., p.509.
15 Ibid., p.501.
16 Ibid., p.502.
17 Ibid., p.500.
18 Ibid., p.505.
19 Ibid., p.452.
20 Ibid., p.454.
21 I would also say that if the "interchangeable chapters" serve any function,
it is to expound this theory of the novel through Morelli and the commentaries
of Oliveira. Look for this in all its extension and variety in Chapters 79,
82, 84, 94, 97, 112, 115, 116, 145, and 154.
22 Gombrowicz lived in Argentina, the author of Ferdydurke, Diario Argentino
(1968) and La Seduccion.
23 Ibid., p.614.