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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

Chapter 10 - “What a Relief to Give Up Literature”

from Part Four


Begun in 1999 and published in 2004, a year after Bolaño’s death, 2666 gives priority, more than in any other work of his career, not to poetry, but to the novel. Where The Savage Detectives expands and ultimately breaks the frame of its prose-poetic search for “true” poetry, 2666 offers Bolaño’s most explicit, sustained elaboration of the novel’s centrality to his prose-poetic, fictive imaginary, even as it challenges the monumental literary ambitions of the novel as form so manifestly on display in 2666 itself. Expanding the scope of its five-part, multi-discursive investigation from literary criticism (four European critics) to philosophy and poetry (Amalfitano and his daughter Rosa); to investigative journalism (the African-American Oscar Fate); to gender violence (serial murders), entertainment, and electronic media; to the novel, history, and literary history (the German novelist Benno Von Archimboldi, aka Hans Reiter), 2666 concludes with a titled two-page prose poem, “Fürst Pückler,” that affirms, with consummate irony, the value of small works and little books, and of the extra-literary over the literary, at the end of Bolaño’s most ambitious work, a novel acutely aware, as Bolaño is at virtually all points, of questions of scale and innovation, of literary evolution and social change.