141 CHRONICLESnOne would expect a novelist to seizenupon this unusual and complex personality,nbut in this novel the Counselornplays only a minor role. Thenfocus is on the people he inspires andnthe events generated by their attachmentnto him.nThe War of the End of the World isnlarge and panoramic, displaying extraordinarynimaginative inventiveness,nthe kind of fertile inventiveness demonstratednin the author’s last novel.nAunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, butnpushed to an even more ambitiousnlevel. In alternating sections our attentionnis drawn to dozens of charactersnranging from a wealthy and worldlywisenbaron to a bearded lady in anpathetic traveling circus composed of anhandful of grotesques. As the battlesnprogress, we shift back and forth tonsimultaneous scenes involving variousncombatants on both sides as well asnthose caught in the middle, and wenmove forward and backward in timenfor multiple perspectives on the principalnevents. The dust-jacket comparisonsnwith the great historical novels ofnTolstoy and Stendhal should not bentaken lightiy. This is obviously a stunningnand significant novel.nThe comparisons with large-scopenhistorical novels of the past century,nhowever, need qualification, and thisnbrings me back to my initial pointnabout contemporary preoccupationnwith pure narrative. Vargas Llosa hasnsaid he does not like novels with morals,nand this novel certainly propoundsnno overt morals. Indeed it differs fromnthose large 19th-century novels by appearingnindifferent to major themes,nideas, or conclusions. The phenomenonnof Antonio Conselheiro and hisnrebellion in the backlands poses a multitudenof baffling questions. VargasnLlosa makes no attempt to answernthem. His refusal as narrator to getninside the minds of the Counselor isnperhaps symptomatic of his interestsnand approach. His objective is to providenrich, engaging, often startlingnnarrative as an end in itself. Of coursenevery narrative will bear to some degreenthe stamp of the author’s characternand philosophy, and one such asnthis that describes so many charactersnand incidents is bound to touch uponna variety of themes and issues. Nevertheless,nthe dominant motivation behindnThe War of the End of the Worldnis story for story’s sake. I’m certain thatnVargas Llosa would concur with RichardnPoirer’s notion that “literature hasnonly one responsibility—to be compellednand compelling about its ownninventions.”nJose Donoso’s A House in the Countrynis another impressive feat of thenimagination, but a more problematicnone. It is set in the backlands also, thisntime in an unidentified South Americanncountry. Donoso himself is anChilean. In the novel, a wealthy familyncomposed of seven sets of parentsnand 35 cousins spends its summers in anlarge country estate in a remote region.nThe house is enclosed by anniron-lace fence, which forms a barriernagainst a vast and encroaching prairienof thistles and against the natives—nthought to be cannibals—whom thenfamily exploits to mine gold and hammernit into fine sheets for export. Herenthe adults live in selfish luxury andnself-deception while the children pursuentheir own elaborate games of incestuousnintimacies, jealousies, andnintrigues. When the adults leave for anpicnic that lasts a day for them but anyear for the children, the children’sn”games” are transformed into a nightmarenof anarchy and destruction. Thenfence is torn down and children, servants,nand natives engage in a bloodynstruggle for power.nThe novel is self-consciously antirealistic.nThe narrator intrudes periodicallynto remind us that everything isnhis own rather arbitrary invention. “Bynintruding myself from time to time innthe story I simply wish to remind thenreader of his distance from the materialnof this novel, which I would like tonclaim as something entirely my own,nfor exhibit or display, never offered fornthe reader to confuse with his ownnexperience.” The strategy is preciselynthat described by Gerald Graff in anchapter of Literature Against Itself tidedn”The Politics of Anti-Realism.”nGraff explains that the enemy of mimesisnbelieves that by acknowledgingnthe representational nature of literaturenwe reconcile ourselves to the establishednorder. On the other hand, bynrefusing to imitate nature, by rejectingnthe very idea of a stable “nature,”nliterature strikes at the psychologicalnand epistemological bases of the rulingnorder, which is the product of bourgeoisnmyths.nnnDonoso’s narrator explicitly rejectsn”the mimetic concept of art.” Realismnis unpalatable to him “because everynattempt at ‘realism’ however unpleasantnor disturbing, always meets withnofficial approval, since in the finalnanalysis it is useful, instructive, itnpoints out, it condemns.” He choosesnthe alternative of an “exaggerated artificiality”nas a means of creating “annequally portentious universe: one thatnmight similarly reach and touch andncall notice to things, though from annopposite and disapproved angle, sincenartifice is a sin for being useless andnimmoral, whereas the essence of realismnis its morality.”nMuch can be said for this strategy. Itnbears resemblance to that of Hawthorne,nwho walked the narrow frontiernbetween the real and fanciful innorder to treat more profoundly thentruths of the human heart. But thendifferences are significant. Donosondoesn’t walk that frontier; he obliteratesnit and thumbs his nose or makesnobscene gestures at those on the side ofnrealism. Thus, what Hawthornengained is lost to Donoso.nA primary weakness in the strategy isnan over-reliance on the power of purennarrative. Donoso’s narrator insistsnthat there is nothing in his pages, asncomplicated as they might at timesnappear, “that can’t be grasped as purennarrative.” In fact, he suggests thatn”pure narrative is the true protagonistnin a novel that sets out to grind upncharacters, time, space, psychology,nand sociology in one great tide ofnlanguage.” His confidence in thenforceful attraction of pure narrative isnthat of a true believer. No amount ofnartificiality or implausibility can negatenthat force. At the end of the booknhe makes a special point of saying thatn”in spite of having created my charactersnas a-psychological, unlifelike, artificial,nI haven’t managed to avoid becomingnpassionately involved withnthem and with their surroundingnworld.” And he intimates his assumptionnthat his readers have experiencednthe same passionate involvement.nI was not passionately involved. Instead,nI felt impatient with Donoso’snself-indulgent trifling with artifice as anmeans of making thinly disguisednangry and hyperbolic commentary onnhis government and society. It seems anform of cheating to deny responsibilityn