And what follows seems to return the story to its mode of acid description. Irimiás successfully concludes his scheme. The authorities, he sadly says, will not allow their project to go forward, at least for the moment. So he recommends that they should all disperse and wait for an opportune moment of regrouping—meanwhile remaining “in lively, continual communication” with him, maintaining an “unceasing, vigilant observation of their immediate surroundings.” Then Irimiás files an official report on his activities to the authorities, with descriptions of each of the villagers. And with this penultimate chapter, the story seems to have ended, the process of disintegration complete—a systematic cancellation that was perhaps always obvious from the chapter numbers. In the first half they are numbered I to VI. In the second, they’re numbered backwards, from VI to I. This novel traces, in other words, the canceling steps of its title’s tango.
Adam Thirlwell has written about Krasznahorkai’s Satantango. [via NYRB]