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Detective Fiction in Cuban Society and Culture

Stephen Wilkinson

This book examines Cuban society through a study of its detective fiction and more particularly contemporary Cuban society through the novels of the author and critic, Leonardo Padura Fuentes.
The author traces the development of Cuban detective writing in the light of the work of twentieth century Western European literary critics and philosophers including Raymond Williams, Antonio Gramsci, Terry Eagleton, Roland Barthes, Jean Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, Jean François Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard in order to gain a better understanding of the social and historical context in which this genre emerged.
The analysis includes discussion of the broader philosophical, political and historical issues raised by the Cuban revolution. The book concludes that the study of this popular genre in Cuba is of crucial importance to the scholar who wishes to reach as full an understanding of the social dynamics within that society as possible.

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Introduction: Why study detective fiction? 9

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Introduction Why study detective fiction? Detective or crime-related fiction is a cultural phenomenon that has few commercially successful rivals. In Britain, only the romance fiction of publishers such as Mills and Boon has greater sales than crime novels. On the five terrestrial British television channels in one week of 2005 there were no less than twenty hours of shows with a police, crime or espionage theme.1 Such is the popularity of this genre that even the products of crime fiction’s earliest exponents such as Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are endlessly republished, recreated in new media, translated and marketed throughout the world.2 Along with the latest offerings these, and other ‘giants’ of the genre, such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett and Agatha Christie, are still to be found on the shelves of bookstores at airports and railway stations. As detective fiction historian Julian Symons remarks, Sherlock Holmes became a myth […] so potent that even in his own lifetime Doyle was almost swamped by it, and the myth is no less potent today. Criminal and emotional problems are still addressed to Holmes for consideration, and pilgrimages are made to his rooms at 221B Baker St. (1992: 73) The detective genre is so successful that it has become the subject of serious consideration. A popular cultural form that occupies the minds of so many people for so long, that crosses cultural boundaries so easily (there is a Sherlock Holmes society in almost 1 TV Times, 26 April–2 May...

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