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The Tunnel (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – International Edition, April 27, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


'An existentialist classic ... Retains a chilling, memorable power' The New York Times Book Review 'Sabato captures the intensity of passions run into uncharted passages where love promises not tranquillity, but danger' Los Angeles Times Heralded by Albert Camus and Thomas Mann and widely translated, "The Tunnel" is the brief, obsessive, sometimes delirious confession of a convicted murderer. -- Robert Coover New York Times Book Review

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic (April 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141194545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141194547
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Thomas on August 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not one to review books like this, so I don't have much to say. But I consider it my duty to counter the off-putting one-star review here, a review which might turn many people away from this wonderful book.

Imagine if Camus, Thomas Bernhard, and Hamsun's Hunger had a terrifying child. Now, imagine The Tunnel. There is a delightful misanthropic character about this book, the kind which surfaces in the work of defeated idealists and weary nihilists. But there is love as well - undoubtedly tortured, maddened, romantic love, but a genuine love nonetheless. If anything, this novel represents the "humanistic" existentialism that Sartre desired so fervently.

Ernesto Sabato is one of the most important Latin American authors to have emerged in the last century. Just wait a few years, let some of his startling, erudite collections of essays get translated, and it'll be Borges and Sabato - the beacons of Argentinian literature. And after you read The Tunnel, ignore Sabato's magnum opus, On Heroes and Tombs, for a while, and read the essays collected in The Writer in the Catastrophe of Our Time (trans. Asa Zatz) - they are perhaps some of the most moving, piercing, and intelligent thoughts and theories on literature and human progress I've ever read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By e. verrillo on September 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Tunnel falls into the category of existentialist literature, such as The Stranger and No Exit. Like other works in its genre it touches on the futility of existence, the essential isolation of the individual, and profound social anomie. The Tunnel, however, stands apart from the European works in that it treats the disintegration of the individual - rather than of society - through the guise of obsessional love.

The main character, an artist who not only hates other artists, but all the trappings that surround the artistic community, falls in love with the one person who appears to understand his paintings, i.e. who appears to understand him. This awareness comes from a brief glimpse of a bewitching young woman in an art show, without a word being spoken between them. The fact that he does not know who she is does not deter him. He must somehow find her again, and he goes about discovering her identity in a series of awkward, adolescent efforts that make the reader cringe. The pursuit of the painter's obsession brings him to loathe the object of his adoration, even as he loathes himself. Eventually, the obsession ends as all obsessions must - and as the readers all know it must, for the artist announces the ultimate end of the affair in his first sentence.

What I enjoyed most about this book was its quintessential Argentinian flavor. I read it in the original language, which, of course, lends depth and breadth to every work. The cadences, the subtleties, and above all, that strange, morose Argentinian humor came shining through. Once again, I was impressed with the fluency with which Latin American writers capture the written word, effortlessly transforming it into feeling and state of mind. Sabato, in this regard, excels, for even in a work that epitomizes the meaning of "dramatic irony," the chilling, but inevitable conclusion of this remarkable tale packs a whallop that you will feel long after you have emerged from The Tunnel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Ettner on February 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this, his first novel, Ernesto Sábato displays an assured hand in fashioning a fresh tale of obsession and murder. The pace of THE TUNNEL is uncommonly well controlled. There is no fat on the bones of its first-person confessional narrative. At 140 pages, divided into 39 chapters, the book can be read in one or two sessions. This I recommend. Uninterrupted attention to the diseased mind of the artist-confessor, Juan Pablo Castel, is the optimal way to experience Sabato's own artistry.

We know from the opening pages of the novel and from the first encounter between Castel and María Iribarne that these two lovers are doomed to play out a fatal destiny. We expect the descent will be devastating. It is.

The affair begins with the traditional dance: tentative connections, daydreaming, high expectations, misunderstandings, jousting, furtive telephone calls. Looking back after his crime, Castel recalls "how we are blinded by love, how magically love transforms reality."

It is chilling to come upon the first intimations of violence. Sábato is a master of the slow reveal. He is aware of how we, his apprehensive readers, are taking in and digesting the progress of the tale. I was struck by the teasing manner in which he parcels out dialog between the lovers, and how he uses their diverging temperaments (the overly-analytical Castel versus the elusive María) as a means to keep us off-balance. We want to hear more from María, in her own words, unfiltered by the claustrophobic, maddeningly selfish perceptions of the narrator.
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Format: Paperback
This was Ernesto Sabato's first novel, originally published in 1948. It is now being re-published as a Penguin Classic and is certainly deserving of the word `classic'. This is basically the story of Juan Pablo Castel, an artist whose passions run very deep into very dark places. He starts his tale by admitting to killing the one person who truly understood his art and by extension him too.
It is then a monologue of him recounting how he met her, fell in obsessive love with her and how the tragedy reaches its' inevitable conclusion. This is a masterful work, but it is not an easy read and despite giving it the deserved five stars, which comes up as `I love it', I found i did not love it, but admired it. The story is too destructive, self obsessed and dark to be able to be loved. That then is the strength; Sabato has placed himself in the scary world of Castel and takes us on every twist and turn in this man's mind, to be able to justify his actions. Castel is a vividly unlikable man who looks down on everyone around him and sees artifice and cunning where none exists. This is possibly where he projects his own crooked ways of thinking onto everyone else.

He was praised by Albert Camus amongst others and I can see why as he truly gets under the skin of his creation and is flawless in his analytical approach, much like Camus. It was published as `El Tunel' which has been translated as The Tunnel or The Outsider, as you near the end you will see why `The Tunnel' is far more apt.

This is a short but not an easy read - what does work though is it stays with you for a long while after reading like `Heart of darkness' by Joseph Conrad and as such is an essential novel. I hope that with this re release that his work might find a new audience.
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