[William H. Gass] The Tunnel [rwanda Book] Epub – TXT, Kindle eBook or Book Read

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Writing a novel about his own life instead of the introduction to his magnum opus The Tunnel meditates on history hatred unhappiness and above all languag. The Tunnel ConceitThe tunnel is an authorial conceit on the part of William H Gass as well as his protagonist William F KohlerIt s probably best to abandon any preconceptions of what it might mean when you enter either tunnel as a readerThe metaphorical tunnel doesn t represent an escape route out of anywhere nor does it represent a method of entry into somewhere elseInstead it constitutes a long strange trip or journey through the mind of the first person protagonist At this level the novel is simply an account of the intellectual life of the protagonist It s not clear whether it s merely thought or written down I ll settle for the latter because of its self consciously literary toneLanguage is the vehicle by which this mind s ore is drilled bored extracted conveyed to us and laid bare so that if we re interested enough we can sift through it looking for gold or gelt or guiltThe Dirty DiggerSo much for the metaphysical tunnel At a physical level Kohler his name is German for digger goes down to the basement of his home and starts digging a tunnel or hole It s not clear what he intends to do with his hole or where he hopes it will take him It s almost as if it s sufficient as if it s an act of liberation in its own right that Kohler is digging his own hole This hole belongs to him It is his very own piece of nothingness Kohler is a man for whom nothing is enoughOn the other hand Kohler is a dirty digger The act of digging a hole reuires him to dig up and remove dirt He doesn t want his wife Martha to realise he is digging a hole for himself So he shovels the dirt into the chests of drawers and dressing tables upstairs in all of the rooms other than the room in which this might come as a surprise she sleeps separatelyOf course Martha finds out and uite reasonably remarks I don t want your dirt in my drawers any than I want your ideas in my head You ve got to admit this is pretty funny in the absurdist manner of Beckett Only the playwright didn t take 651 pages to achieve a similar result Plus structurally the two act play enabled Beckett to ensure that at least nothing happened twice Here nothing only happens once It s just that there s a whole lot of nothing going downThat s enough about the conceit of the tunnel It s little than a framing device for a monologueDigging All the Dirt on KohlerOver the course of these 651 pages we literally get to know everything about Kohler Perhaps a better way to say it is that we get all the dirt there is to know about Kohler The he digs the dirt we get The remarkable thing is we get Kohler warts and all from the horse s mouth Needless to say it s not pretty In fact he is a disgrace in just about every aspect of life Even remarkably we don t get any sense of embarrassment or shame about anything he has to say about himself It s as if he has to tell somebody else for it to be really true In the telling his story becomes history You don t have to be a king to make history You just need to have lived to have been alive To this extent only he has something in common with everymanIronically or perhaps not Kohler is an academic historian He has written a book called Guilt and Innocence in Hitler s Germany At the beginning of the novel he sits down to write the Introduction to the book only his own story distracts him This alone suggests that history can t be written objectively there will always be something subjective of the historian or author in the telling Thus we are misguided if we think that history is objective Conversely we re entitled to ask what can we learn from history It seems that we will encounter unreliable narrators in history than we do in fictionWe don t learn much about what Kohler has written in his book Perhaps if we did it could have constituted his Introduction However we learn a whole lot about his pastThe Mad Meg LegacyGass started writing the novel in 1965 when he was about 40 He took another 30 years to finish and publish it It s difficult to judge when the novel is set or at least when the narration is taking place A couple of times it s mentioned that Kohler is 50 There is little reference to contemporaneous events other than a brief mention of protests against the Vietnamese War There is some incidental mention of hippies but no suggestion that the Summer of Love has occurred Thus it s possible that the narration occurs about 1965 which means that Kohler was born in about 1915 and was about nine or ten years older than Gass himselfThis difference in age makes it possible for Kohler to have spent at least a year studying in Germany after Hitler came to power It seems that he studied history under a charismatic persuasive and compelling pro Nazi Professor Magus Mad Meg Tabor who greatly influenced his actions and beliefs It s tempting but ultimately futile to try to work out who Mad Meg represents view spoilerHitler Nietzsche Heidegger hide spoiler

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The Tunnel

Thirty years in the making William Gass's second novel first appeared on the literary scene in 1995 at which time it was promptly hailed as an indisputable. There are so many possible ways of existence We have not lived the right life But is there the right life to be lived The Tunnel belongs among those books one drowns in like in the delugeThe man of action has a destiny a star he follows and it draws him on like the Magi or so it s said the taillight of a car it s said the flag of a deer The creator courts the muse pays tribute and pursues sucks sips sniffs puffs pops screws for the favor of his Fancy The visionary sees the future like a dream draped dressmaker s dummy as silks pinned to the canvas skin of a shameless wire veined manikin But we historians we poets of the past tense we wait for our tutelary spirits to find us we sit in one place like the spider and until that little shiver in the web signals the enmeshment of our prey we look within for something to lighten our nightmare the weight of our patience the fluorescent face of a bedside clock for example enamel nailshine bleached sheetThe protagonist and narrator is a historian but he is a mountebank a uack scientist fake Faust He wants to make a pact with the devil but Mephistopheles can t buy his soul because he is a fraud as well because heroes are creatures created by ignorance like infatuations they are born of hype of superstition fraud as are gods saints and movie stars and they all pass into legend myth romance still further fictions like clouds into cloudsConseuently the hero of the novel is nothing but a worm and a worm needs a wormhole And he starts digging the tunnel a private passage to his personal hell And the worm being hates the light the world and everyone in this world Love has its limits but hatred is boundless In order to exist hate must like a worm devour everything on its way And hate slowly devours the hater too

William H. Gass ↠ 5 review

Masterpiece The story of a middle aged professor who upon completion of his massive historical study Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany finds himself. When this book was published in 1995 by Alfred Knopf I was in the middle of deep reading on the Holocaust Many of the titles I still hold in my library I felt at the time that an inundation in this subject matter kept me from enjoying The Tunnel I was wrong about that though I am deeply thankful to MJ for jogging me back into a reconsideration of the novel I stopped reading at page 55 The main reason lack of narrative pleasure Let me explainFirst the premise a US academic specializing in the Holocaust who speaks German has a German name but no personal connection to Germany is reconsidering his life in a chair That is to say his many years spent studying the death saturated enigma that is the Holocaust and the role of its perpetrators His name is Kohler like the plumbing supplier and along the way he says I have fed too much death to the mouth and matter of my life and so have grown up a ghostThe book is hyper discursive Along the way the narrator flitters from a consideration of his small penis his penchant for fucking his students his lack of lust for his wife the end of sex his children gone his beastly father dead his many moments in the saddle memories his deep reading recondite etc Though there are likable aspects to the book Gass sure knows how to work a transition There is a flow to the book that is an object lesson in transition writing that would I think repay study But the book is so abstract as to be open to multiple if not hundreds of interpretations This is scholarly fiction meant to allay the labyrinth solving mentalities of academics Obviously it doesn t hurt if you re novel is marketed primarily to scholars to have a scholar as your protagonistIn the end for me there was way too much woolgathering and not enough of the concrete I yearned for the clarity of long form narrative but all I was given was a lot of highly allusive connecting tissue The Tunnel in the end reminded me of my frustrations with a number of other unreadable texts which include Finnegan s Wake The Recognitions Gravity s Rainbow et al Such fictions are simply if anything can be said to be simple about them too dense and allusive too lacking in clarity too ambiguous to satisfy my craving for cohesive narrative I think this is a book my GR philosophy friend would like In fact I would love to see him review it solely for his undoubted ability to catch Gass flat footed in his philosophical musings Finally the book reuires a deep understanding in too many areas for me to find it engaging The ideal reader will have a solid understanding of 1 Greek myth 2 classic philosophy 3 20th century history 4 the Holocaust and its many actors and perpetrators and 5 19th century British poetry And remember I stopped at page 55 Pages as crammed and dense as any you will come across anywhereThe area I know well is 4 I know 1 and 3 less well 2 hardly at all and as for 5 I don t much like it Far too Imperialist Christian for me in this post colonial era So there you have it Another brush with death by way of reading But then such are the vicissitudes of LITERATURE


10 thoughts on “The Tunnel

  1. says:

    There are so many possible ways of existence “We have not lived the right life” But is there the right life to be lived? The Tunnel belongs among those books one drowns in like in the delugeThe man of action has a destiny a star he follows and it draws him on like the Magi or so it’s said; the taillight of a car it’s said; the flag of a deer The creator courts the muse pays tribute and pursues sucks sips sniffs puffs pops

  2. says:

    RING THE BELLS RING THE BELLS THE GREAT MAN IS GONE FLOAT YOUR GASS REVIEWSThe first 200 pages of this novel carry the reader aloft on flowing waves of sumptuous musical prose sentences so serpentine and silky so alliteratively slinky one’s only response is to ride these dreamy masterful currents of polished perfection with near spiritual ecstasy After the first 200 pages or thereabouts the novel takes muckier knotty horror pac

  3. says:

    O William GassSuch a pain in the assHis difficult proseGets right up my noseNote I've been reading this novel on off for about 6 months But not no IT’S YOUR FAULT CLEAR AS DAY The Tunnel comes to you with the maximum numbe

  4. says:

    It feels like I have been reading this for as long as Gass spent writing it; it’s a hefty tome and not easy to read The primary character around whom all this revolves is William Frederick Kohler I am reliably informed that in the US the word Kohler has plumbing connotations He is a middle aged history professor at a mid western university who has just completed writing his magnum opus Guilt and Innocence in Hitler’s Germany

  5. says:

    When this book was published in 1995 by Alfred Knopf I was in the middle of deep reading on the Holocaust Many of the titles I still hold in my library I felt at the time that an inundation in this subject matter kept me from enjoying The Tunnel I was wrong about that though I am deeply thankful to MJ for jogging me back

  6. says:

    RIP Hamlet What have you my good friends deserv'd at the hands ofFortune that she sends you to prison hither? Guildenstern Prison my lord? Hamlet Denmark's a prison Rosencrantz Then is the world one Hamlet A goodly one in which there are many confines wards anddungeons Denmark being one o' th' worst Rosencrantz We think not so my lord Hamlet Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good orbad but thinking

  7. says:

    Being William Kohler The Tunnel is a sort of portal through which we enter into the head of one William Frederick

  8. says:

    Our proper bliss depends on what we blameThis unhesitatingly gets the full fathom 5 star treatment because without a doubt it is an a

  9. says:

    The Tunnel ConceitThe tunnel is an authorial conceit on the part of William H Gass as well as his protagonist William F KohlerIt's probably best to abandon any preconceptions of what it might mean when you enter either tun

  10. says:

    For six hundred and fifty one pages Gass invites the reader to wade through a lifetime of memories dredged—and at times perhaps cooked—up by a caustically disillusioned and despairing professor of history at a midwest American university a reminiscence that functions as a delaying tactic against the completion of his life's work a massive exhaustively researched revisionist history of the Third Reich ent