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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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1. The relationship between literature and society: a theoretical framework 19

Extract

Chapter 1 The relationship between literature and society: a theoretical framework The Cuban revolution as a historical event offers a unique opportunity to test some long-established theories concerning the relationship between culture and society. This revolution, occurring in a relatively developed island nation in the western hemisphere with a generally cohesive and small population, converted Cuba into a kind of social laboratory in which revolutionary thought and practice have been given their most detailed examination. With reference to Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony and his ideas concerning the role of art and literature in shaping the consciousness of the masses, the fact that the Cuban revolution became Marxist-Leninist underscores even further its significance as a ‘testing ground’. Gramsci was concerned with theorising the type of process of change that the Cuban revolutionaries actually undertook and the problem with which they were confronted in practice: how to arrive at the point at which the majority of citizens accept and internalise a new ideology so that a revolutionary society can be ruled by consent rather than coercion. (See for example Gramsci’s discussion on intellectuals and education in Forgacs ed. 1988: 301–3). In Gramsci’s view as expounded in his Prison Notebooks, hegemony is the total sum of the ways in which a dominant class exercises its power, including the ways in which the oppressed accept their oppression passively. He was concerned with studying the extent to which dominant classes are successful in projecting their own particular ways of seeing the world and...

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