The Danger of Subsuming Yourself in Literature

“Continuity of Parks” argues that your success in reading or writing fiction depends on your willingness to lose yourself utterly in the task. A true reader, like the protagonist of Cortázar’s story, will tumble into fiction consciously and deliberately. He will subsume himself so thoroughly that he will feel as if he has become part of the fictional world. If we, Cortázar’s audience, respond to “Continuity of Parks” in the way the reader responds to his book, we will come to the end of the story as if coming to the end of a vivid dream, not sure of what is real and what is imagined. The responsibility of a true writer is to create a world powerful and colorful enough to enable readers to lose themselves in it. At the same time, however, subsuming one’s self in reading and writing can be dangerous—it’s no coincidence that the reader’s book concerns murder and betrayal. The story ends with a suggestion that the immersed reader is, at least metaphorically, on the brink of death. Cortázar implies that becoming engrossed in fiction is both a goal worth striving for and a way of losing hold of your identity.