A “Dear Author” review of
The Museum Of Eterna’s Novel
by Macedonio Fernández
Dear Macedonio Fernández,
I’ve wanted to write you ever since I learned of your ill-fated presidential run, and I’m glad that the publication of The Museum of Eterna’s Novel has finally afforded me an excuse to do so. I have to admit: while I enjoyed the book, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. You introduce it as the world’s “first good novel” and go through the motions of fiction, developing characters, building a house—“La Novela”—for your characters to live in, even elaborating a plot before the story begins. But despite all that, Eterna-as-novel (or conventional novel, anyway) never really takes shape. Meta-theorizing overshadows narrative as the book’s main focus (you say at one point that the book is interested in a “reading of itself”); prologue after prologue delays the novel’s opening (more than fifty in total); and by the time Eterna actually starts (on page 127) it’s so mired in self-consciousness that it feels more like a dry run of a play than a work of fiction. The closest I can find to an answer is the half-joking concession that you’ve left behind a perfect theory of the novel and an imperfect example of its execution.
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