Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2666 Preview - The Selected Works of Archimboldi

While the 2666 group-read doesn't start until January 25th, I've got some minor items that I've been working on. You can think of it as a sneak preview of what's going to be published on Monday morning.
I was thinking a lot about the titles of Archimboldi's novels - if there was any significance to their titles at all or if they were just fun-sounding names.

D'Arsonval - possibly a reference to Jacques-Arsène d'Arsonval, who was a French physicist. The D'Arsonval phenomenon is commonly referred to as the Tesla Current ("An alternating current having a frequency of 10 kilohertz or greater produces no muscular contractions and does not affect the sensory nerves"). Remember that this is the first Archimboldi that Pelletier reads and is also the first that he translates from German to French. We'll discuss this more next week...


Saint Thomas - Thomas the Apostle was known mostly for disbelieving in Jesus's resurrection (John 20:28). The phrase "doubting Thomas" finds its origins in Saint Thomas. It is Morini that translates this work - I wonder if there's any significance?

Lethaea - Lethaea - From Wikipedia:
"a mythological character briefly mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Due to her vanity, she was turned to stone at Ida by the gods. Her lover Olenus wished to share in the blame, and so shared her fate. The story is used a metaphor for how stunned Orpheus was after a failed attempt to bring back his wife from the underworld. It was as if he too were turned to stone."
Again, this work is linked to Morini through a paper he authored on "on the various guises of conscience and guilt in Lethaea, on the surface an erotic novel..." The paper also uses Bitzius as a primary reference.

Bifurcaria, Bifurcata - Some science-y stuff here - Bifurcaria is a source of unique diterpenoids which may prove pharmaceutically beneficial. In one preliminary study, an extract of Bifurcaria bifurcata halted the proliferation of cancer cells. This work of Archimboldi was also translated by Morini, who has multiple sclerosis. So maybe there's a link between this stuff that might offer some kind of cancer relief and the one character that's confined to a wheelchair? Also, Bifurcaria, Bifurcata makes me think of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! mostly for the sound and the shape of the words.

Bitzius - Probably a reference to Albert Bitzius, who wrote under the pen name Jeremias Gotthelf. All we know of Bitzius is that it's a short novel, less than 100 words. More of a novella, really. This one is tied to Morini again, but I don't see a clear connection within the context of 2666.

More coming on Monday - stay tuned!

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