Sábato, Ernesto (Vol. 10)
Sábato, Ernesto 1911–
Sábato is an Argentine novelist, essayist, and critic. Like many Latin American authors, Sábato is concerned with the historical and social problems of his country. Many of his essays deal with the social and political climate of contemporary South America, and he has published a volume of correspondence with the late revolutionary leader Che Guevara.
Raymond D. Souza
The third section of Sobre héroes y tumbas, "Informe sobre ciegos," is the most important of the novel's four parts. It is in this section that the reader enters the mind and world of Fernando Vidal, the novel's main protagonist. Most of the other characters in the work are secondary to Fernando, because he forms the vortex around which their existences revolve. All who enter into this sphere of influence are changed. Some (e.g. Alejandra) are destroyed while others (e.g. Martín) find in their lives the possibility of a purpose and meaning that did not exist before.
Fernando's existence serves as a synthesizing axis which combines all the destructive and creative forces found in human existence. It is Fernando's mission to explore the unrecognized and unadmitted elements of human life, the repulsive and ugly aspects, in order that an attempt can be made to reintegrate and coordinate the splintered self of contemporary man. It is this mission or function that explains why Sobre héroes y tumbas is a novel of extremes and why Fernando's existence is marked by a series of radical actions such as the incestuous relationship he maintains with his daughter Alejandra…. Fernando defies the laws of man and of nature, but, paradoxically, his evil acts produce good results….
The malefic and sinister character of Fernando may seem at first glance to be an unlikely candidate for a hero's role, but close...
(The entire section is 1286 words.)
David William Foster
One aspect of Ernesto Sábato's sprawling Sobre héroes y tumbas (1962) concerns the implicit sympathy of the novelist with the "uncomplicated of human spirit," as represented by the central character Martín. In support of this sympathy the novelist contrasts Martín's intimate involvement with Alejandra with the detached preoccupation of the novelist manqué Bruno, and on another more pervasive level, common people are contrasted with the decaying Olmos family. But perhaps the most significant contribution in terms of Sábato's subtle panegyric of the simple folk is Olmos Vidal's "Informe sobre ciegos," a complicated and fascinating conceit that in the last analysis becomes an ironic burlesque of the ponderous interpretations of existence by the degenerate intellectuals.
Vidal's "Informe," the third part of the novel, is part diary, part confession, part exposé. Given the absurdity of Vidal's premises concerning the underground movement of the blind that is supposed to control the world, this part of the novel stands out as quite an autonomous document, and indeed was so published…. Nevertheless, so much interest has been invested in detailing Vidal's scribblings in terms of psychoanalysis and existentialism that not enough attention has been paid its relationship with the novel as a whole. The document is, of course, without a doubt a brilliant piece of "confabulación." Vidal's hypotheses are spell-binding in the...
(The entire section is 1250 words.)
H. Ernest Lewald
The 125 captioned chapters of Abaddón offer the reader an unconvincing pastiche made up of the "flesh, blood, tears and thoughts" emanating from [Sabato's] previous writings. Thus we find Sábato playing himself, surrounded by a host of characters from his two previous novels …; monologues on the function of literature, on the writer and his public and on literary genres and currents (anti-Robbe-Grillet but pro-Kafka) which are barely paraphrased statements taken from earlier works such as El escritor y sus fantasmas or Hombres y engranajes; and reminiscences of his early "scientific" years in Paris. Stylistically and thematically, Sábato appears as his own spokesman, at times under the guise of Quique delivering known diatribes against a rational universe and its crassest manifestations—the culture of the United States for instance—at times exploring the "humble" Buenos Aires in waterfront cafés or the Olmos cemetery as Bruno. Powerless to transcend his earlier periods, he is forced to witness a repetition of himself and his creations and thus finds himself playing the great man of letters who is recognized, followed and venerated on the basis of his own legend. Neither the creation of additional characters …, nor the inclusion of fragments from Che Guevara's diary are able to bring actualidad or a new focus on this Gesamtwerk. In fact, the many allusions to places and events taken from previous works...
(The entire section is 307 words.)