Author: Ernesto Sabato
The Tunnel (Spanish: El túnel) is a dark, psychological novel written by Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato about a deranged porteño painter, Juan Pablo Castel, and his obsession with a woman. The story’s title refers to the symbol for Castel’s emotional and physical isolation from society, which becomes increasingly apparent as Castel proceeds to tell from his jail cell the series of events that enabled him to murder the only person capable of understanding him. Marked by its existential themes, El Túnel received enthusiastic support from Albert Camus and Graham Greene following its publication in 1948.
Ernesto Sabato (June 24, 1911 – April 30, 2011) was an Argentine writer, painter and physicist. According to the BBC he “won some of the most prestigious prizes in Hispanic literature” and “became very influential in the literary world throughout Latin America”. Upon his death El País dubbed him the “last classic writer in Argentine literature”.
Sabato was distinguished by his bald pate and brush moustache and wore tinted spectacles and open-necked shirts.[He was born in Rojas, a small town in Buenos Aires Province. Sabato began his studies at the Colegio Nacional de La Plata. He then studied physics at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, where he earned a PhD. He then attended the Sorbonne in Paris and worked at the Curie Institute. After World War II, he lost interest in science and started writing.
Sabato’s oeuvre includes three novels: El Túnel (1948), Sobre héroes y tumbas (1961) and Abaddón el exterminador (1974). The first of these received critical acclaim upon its publication from, among others, fellow writers Albert Camus and Thomas Mann. The second is regarded as his masterpiece, though he nearly burnt it like many of his other works. Sabato’s essays cover topics as diverse as metaphysics, politics and tango. His writings led him to receive many international prizes, including the Legion of Honour (France), the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (France) and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (Spain).
On the request of President Raúl Alfonsín he presided over the CONADEP commission that investigated the fate of those who suffered forced disappearance during the Dirty War of the 1970s. The result of these findings was published in 1984 bearing the title Nunca Más (Never Again).