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The Tunnel

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 Palestrina and Other Plays 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 Blackmailed By Daddy reconsideration of the novel I stopped उरलं सुरलं [Urla Surla] reading at page 55 The main Cock Tales 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 Son of the Hero 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 The Alien Jigsaw 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 Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning reading The Illusion of Gods Presence 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 Folk Tales From The Soviet Union 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 Not The Hot Chick 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 Pegged and Plugged at the Club 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 Tunnel Through Time review it solely for his undoubted ability to catch Gass flat footed in his philosophical musings Finally the book Game of Bimbofication, Part 3 reuires a deep understanding in too many areas for me to find it engaging The ideal Game of Bimbofication, Part 2 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 Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions, Vol. 1 of 5 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 The Fatima Century reading But then such are the vicissitudes of LITERATURE

characters The Tunnel

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. Our proper bliss depends on what we blameThis unhesitatingly gets the full fathom 5 star treatment because without a doubt it is an amazing work I was amazed among a host of other emotions and the 26 years of labor Gass put into The Tunnel are apparent in every carefully wrought sentence in this monster masterpiece However it is an extremely unpleasant read perhaps the most unpleasant and disturbing read I ve come across in my 35 years of intellectual intake The fact that such heights of beauty and musicality are mixed with such abysses of misery and violence compound the disturbing nature of this experience it is a total experience mind and body and I can only come to one conclusion about this book it is the only work of fiction I know that encompasses and unsparingly realizes the full consciousness of the 20th century in a single thrust That wolfhound age that sprawl of the greatest intellectual achievements and most disgraceful humanistic horrors history has ever seen that is Kohler Gass has embodied in this paper bound consciousness the gnarled and twisting poles of our recent past and it is of necessity an ugly brutal confounding thing There are sections in this book any writer would give a limb to have written sentences paragraphs pages that rival the finest prose in existence there are also entire chapters I would be ashamed to be overheard reciting That those architectural word wonders are enjambed with lines like This book is intended to make you a mountain From such a mountain you may see dead Jews and throw off jokes about cannibalism in Auschwitz and sexual abuse and genocide is par for the course if one is creating a character that is the 20th century And here we have it Do not enter lightly Know that beyond the entrance to The Tunnel there is darkness descent and the things that burrow unseen into our bright superterranean existence and subvert it decimate and infect it A book that some might toss aside after 50 pages in disgust I argue for patience and objectivity for the heart of this thing is a moral tale a warning the discontented the miserable the unsatisfied the embittered the hate filled the jealous those who feel slighted and ignored and cast off by the world are among us and when they seek blame outside themselves when they seek a scapegoat for their miseries rather than shouldering their load themselves rather than seeing and improving themselves awful things might occur What is human can be so easily lost the best products of our minds disfigured or buried like the corpse of a criminal feeding the poison vines that creep up the walls of our houses

read & download ´ eBook or Kindle ePUB Ý William H. Gass

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. 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 number of intellectual endorsements possible for a novel that isn t James Joyce s Ulysses Before you pick it up you ve been beaten into submission by the priestly class of all that is good and holy in modern literature You are acutely aware you re in the Presence of a Masterpiece So let it be as clear as possible if you don t like The Tunnel by William Gass it s your fault You aren t bright enough we re so sorry It s not for you Here s your money back Go and play with Jonathan Franzen or Joyce Carol Oates or David Mitchell Don t bother us up here in the Gassosphere THE CLASS SYSTEM OF NOVELSThere s a class system in the happy world of the novel like there is everywhere else And there s almost no social mobility This is the thing I mean The highbrow canon Proust Flaubert Joyce Nabokov Gaddis Gass Thomas Mann Pynchon DFW Bolano Faulkner Dostoievsky Bernhardt Alexander Theroux Saramago Kafka Virginia Woolf Flaubert etc etc Also Flaubert Don t forget him Middlebrow Jonathan Franzen Cormac McCarthy Joyce Carol Oates Philip Roth Martin Amis all those Booker prize winners and losers F Scott Fitzgerald Raymond Chandler D H Lawrence Charles Dickens Jane Austen etc etcLowbrow Everything else starting off with Fifty Shades of Grey all genre fiction except that written by Ursula le Guin Neil Gaiman and David MitchellHey don t frown I didn t make the rules This is not an anti elitist rant I think Ulysses is the greatest ever novel I love Virginia Woolf Don t shoot I m coming out with my hands up THE CASE OF WILLIAM GASSIt s both strange and not strange that William Gass is in the Highbrow sectionThe not strange part is that William Gass can write many terrific sentences those ones where you feel the top of your brain lifting up up up Many sentences you just want to beueath to posterity or have Beethoven set to music or make your kids marry them or make them Pope Also he loves his stream of consciousness and his chaotic make of this what you will torrential form of writing All expository material is removed All indications of who is speaking and why is ejected with a clip round the earhole This stuff is for people who can cope All that plotty stuff and indentations and uotation marks are for dweebs who can t cope Gass takes no prisoners And I don t mind that too much I gave Omensetter s Luck a whole 3 starsThe strange part where it seems that the literary elite which clutches The Tunnel to its bosom should actually be throwing it up over the side of the bridge over the troubled water of bad literature is that everything you can identify as character or incident or major theme in The Tunnel is tired cliched and monotonously foghorned about like Gass thinks he has invented this stuff There s a fat white middle aged tenured professor who hates himself and his wife also fat and his kidsThere s an awful lot about the disappointment of middle age esp as regards sexHe d like to diddle his teenybop studentsHe s written a big book on the German population under the Nazis and the big issue of guilt and innocence under the Nazis is he has found ambiguous imagine thatHe is in the process of digging a literal tunnel out from the cellar in his house Like you do Which is a metaphor I guess for Gass trying desperately to find a way out of his own novelWhich for the first 200 pages is peppered with really very lame post modish typographical amusements these will make any reader of House of Leaves or The Familiar or the works of Alasdair Gray sneer mightilyOur professor bangs on forever about his midwestern childhood like about 500 other novels do that I could refer toHe is also obsessed with a previous great mentor teacher of his and bores on for pages about himAll of this is very groanworthy We ve been here before so many many times Another microscopic self flagellation by a male person revealing the true repulsiveness of male persons GreatThen there s the tone which is unremitting Our professor has woken up on the wrong side of the bed on page one and doesn t stop spraying bile and dripping venom on everybody and everything until the final page 652 How do I know this given that I ran out of puff and the will to live just before page 200 THE TUNNEL A SCIENTIFIC CORE SAMPLEI took a core sample Here are the resultsPage 99 I hate all soft pillows they close over you like soft fat wallsPage 199 It s Lacelli s strut that gets me it s his dimpled dandification I can t abidePage 299 The Fascist salute looks borrowed from one of Karl May s awful books about American Indians How and Heil are harmoniousPage 399 His accent is substandard suburban Jersey Shorish and ugly in every way but not overly voweled and wavy he does not speak to sum the situation any miserably than most nevertheless what a wop Mama mia and so what a wopPage 499 I had to lecture on the Treaty of Versailles or on some other sublime silliness of so called human society I had to listen to student excuses I had to mark exams as if I cared whether the dumb klutzes lived or diedPage 599 I hate that pork faced pictureTHE GASS OVENThe highbrow canon is full of miseryguts like Bernhardt and Theroux so Gass fits right in Some fans might say well you know this is all black humour doncha geddit It probably is but it wears you down It s the same tone of voice page after page The same guy with not a good word to say for anybody Hey Gass fans doesn t it ever wear thinBut in fact liking or disliking The Tunnel is a complicated business as is everything to do with this monstrous puthering bloviation because The Tunnel is both brilliant and awful at the same time Page by page line by line it s fabulous and loathsome Wonderful and horrible searingly intelligent beautiful and repulsive all at the same timeI found that I didn t want to stick my head in this Gass oven any so this being the first day of a new year my first resolution was to give up digging I m left with the thought heresy to Gass fans that all the time and effort Gass took on this novel was perhaps could be just maybe a hideous misuse of his brains and time in the same way that Joyce wasted his last 18 years with the unreadable Finnegans Wake FURTHER READING FOR THE CURIOUSFor a brilliant demolition of The Tunnel here s a 1995 reviewhttpsnewrepubliccomarticle14616For a great evenhanded and mostly positive Goodreads review here s this from Ian Graye


About the Author: William H. Gass

William Howard Gass was an American novelist short story writer essayist critic and former philosophy professorGass was born in Fargo North Dakota Soon after his birth his family moved to Warren Ohio where he attended local schools He has described his childhood as an unhappy one with an abusive racist father and a passive alcoholic mother; critics would later cite his characters as



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 po

  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 reade

  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 number of intellectual endorsements possible for a novel that isn’t James Joyce’s Ulysses Before yo

  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 universit

  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 into a reconsideration of the novel I stopped reading at page 55 The main reason lack of narrative pleasure Let

  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? Ha

  7. says:

    Being William Kohler The Tunnel is a sort of portal through which we enter into the head of one William Frederick Kohler We poke around in his memories and his thoughts exploring all the little twists and turns of his mind The uestion of how a child goes from innocence to becoming a monster is answered through Kohler's ramblings and flashbacksBut monster is the wrong word here He never achieves anything that grand There is no m

  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 amazing work; I was amazed among a host of other emotions and the 26 years of labor Gass put into The Tunnel 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 tunnel as a readerThe metaphorical tunnel doesn't represent an escape route out of anywhere nor does it represen

  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

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