At least one character's name in 2666 has a deeper meaning than what appears on the surface. Who was Arcimboldo?
Vertumnus, Rudolph II Holy, Roman Emperor painted as the Roman God of the Seasons, 1590.
So why pick a Surrealist painter to pay homage to? It is a deliberate writing choice by Bolano to have one of his main characters change his last name from Reiter to a deviated version of Arcimboldo ( Reiter changes his name to Archimboldi).
On one level, the now dead Bolano gives us a wink when he uses Arcimboldo, suggesting that 2666 is surreal, not only in the many dreams and visions in the novel, but how we can read the novel like a dream. And, on another level, Bolano may be giving us insight into the nature of what we take from novels ( or any story telling device, even dreams). Rieter takes ideas from a notebook he finds and reads, such as this painter's name, and absorbs these ideas into his own life after altering them.
More about Arcimboldo
Although unrecognized as a great artist for many years since his death, the surrealists Dali and Magritte claimed Arcimboldo as one of their own, creating a place for him in art history. Man Ray recreated Arcimboldo's "Winter" and Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, included Archimboldo in a 1936 show called "Fantasy in Art, Dada and Surrealism."
Man Ray was inspired by this painting (Seen below)
Magritte and Dali used objects for body parts, as seen here in a Magritte Suurealistic painting
Arcimboldo lived at a time when visual puns were highly regarded. The Surrealist-type paintings of Arcimbaldo show 16th century tastes: naturalism and the grotesque, as in the reversible paintings that are still-life that become faces when the panels are flipped upside down.
daVinci, Michelangelo and others like to make cartoon-like grotesques. Here we see da Vinci's drawing. Arcimboldo saw da Vinci's drawings.
drawing of Arcimboldo
See a slide show of Arcimboldo's work here: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/10/09/arts/20071010_ARCI_SLIDESHOW_index.html?ref=design