Almost exactly a year ago, as the first bolano-l group read of 2666 was getting sparked up, I wrote the following post about the opening sections of the novel:
It’s hard not to bring up twinning. Specifically, there’s a sort of twinship between the Swabian and Archimboldi because even before Morini suggests that they may be the same person, it occurs to you. Then of course there’s Pelletier and Espinoza. And in a way, there’s Liz as a doppelganger to herself, as she conducts these oddly separate but also oddly related romances (or whatever they are) with Pelletier and Espinoza, many aspects of which are similar but some of which are different (e.g. speaking different languages, different post-coital habits).
Also interesting to me is the horror movie whose plot Espinoza relates to Pelletier (p. 30). As I was thinking about twinhood, I recalled the two teenage girls as twins, though they’re not portrayed explicitly as such. The girls’ different reactions to the story about the boy who sees the face reminds me of the publisher Bubis’s wife’s spiel about art and the art critic and how one author’s work depressed him but made her cry. In the horror movie bit, it also stands out to me that there are two channel 34s that the boy seems to think must be the same but that are actually very different.
Let’s call it not twinhood but duality.
A bit later (p. 45), there’s the bit about Morini as a sort of Eurylochus, with the two divergent stories about him. (Side note: It
struck me that the Bolano fakes imprecision here — “Zeus or whichever god it is” — but you know darned well he knows the myth and wouldn’t just neglect to look it up and be precise about it if he didn’t mean to be imprecise. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this, but it piqued my curiosity, and I’ll be looking for similar thing throughout.)
“Nothing is ever behind us,” Morini says to himself in response to Liz’s email about resolving her issues with her ex-husband. Later, in Morini’s dream (when he’s fleeing from an inevitable, evil thing [or maybe not evil, he decides] behind him), she says “There’s no turning back” and paradoxically turns back. The way Bolano (or the translator) specifically mentions the face of the stranger who turns out to be Liz took me back to the horror movie and the white-faced woman telling the boy he was going to die (a fate from which indeed there is no turning back).
The last bit in this section puts (Piero) Morini in the Italian Garden reading to a London bum recipe titles from a book by Angelo Morino, and the bum points out the similarity in names (which Morini shrugs off; this makes me think back to the confusion of Archimboldi’s name with the artist earlier in the book).
The final bit of duality I guess I’ll point to I think has already been called out: We have all these non-German people converging to study a German author who himself has a weird hybrid sort of name.
So there you have it. There’s lots of doubling going on. I don’t have a thesis as to what it means or anything, but it seems intentional and probably significant.