Enrique Vila-Matas: Doctor Pasavento


The latest addition to my website is Enrique Vila-MatasDoctor Pasavento. This is typical Vila-Matas, a wonderfully inventive story, full of digressions literary learning, speculations, complications and stories. It is narrated by an unnamed narrator but a man who assumes various identities, including that of Dr (and dottore, i.e. the Italian for doctor) Pasavento, Dr Pynchon and Dr Pinchon. He is concerned with the idea of disappearance and (unsuccessfully) plans his own disappearance. It is unsuccessful only in that no-one realises he has disappeared. But he discusses the disappearances of others, including of those who go into an asylum (Robert Walser), those who temporarily disappear (Agatha Christie) and recluses like Pynchon. But he also goes off on all sorts of digressions, including a mild obsession with Rue Vaneau in Paris, where he stays in a hotel. He finds out that there are numerous associations – Gide, Julien Green, Saint-Exupéry and Karl Marx all lived there for a while and the French Prime Minister’s official residence is there, as is the Syrian Embassy. As he finds out more, this becomes one of the running themes. He travels round Europe meeting various people, both fictitious and real, ending up in the fictitious Lokunowo, where he assumes various identities. It is enormous fun but chaotic and complicated. Sadly, it has not been translated into English, though has been translated into five other languages.

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