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The Colombian Political Novel 1951–1987

A Critical Contribution


Alvaro Quiroga-Cifuentes

This book explores the environment and cultural context of Colombian political novels published between 1951 and 1987. Challenging the label of «novelas de la violencia», the author analyses them as products of their own historical time and takes into account their broader implications, such as their representation of the society they narrate. These novels are shown to be the product of political and ideological issues: the real preoccupations of the writers were the balance of power, social dysfunctionality and the need for reform in a society transitioning from rural to urban. These issues are traced in a close reading of representative novels, in which feature letrados and intellectuals and their role in the evolution of society, culture, literature and power in twentieth-century Colombia. With its critical-theoretical approach, this book constitutes a significant and innovative contribution to the debate on Latin American culture and literature.


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Chapter One: The Context of Politics and Ideology of Bipartisanism and the Colombian Novel 1951–1987


CHAPTER ONE The Context of Politics and Ideology of Bipartisanism and the Colombian Novel 1951–1987 The mid twentieth century in contemporary Colombia was a deeply dis- turbed era whose political disturbances which began with bipartisan (lib- eral and conservative) feuds, recording the 9 April 1948 uprising as its most representative expression, and culminated in the amnesty processes and a new outbreak of the conflict towards the mid-1980s, significantly influenced the development of the Colombian novel. Leading as well as little-known novelists began to attempt to portray the most salient of the events in a handful of novels. The most noteworthy encompass Eduardo Caballero Calderón’s El Cristo de espaldas and Siervo sin tierra, and Gabriel García Márquez’s La mala hora among others. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a sense of how a system of power relations ideologically pervaded the Colombian social and cultural ambience and gave rise to the novels produced during this period. I attempt to explain, on the one hand, the significance of partisan relationships, and, on the other, to show how these relationships evolved as a particular process with a specific internal dynamic, distinctively different from the Colombian conflicts that arose later in the 1990s. This focus is justified as a means of clarifying the political and ideological relationships from which the novels read in this book directly derive. This chapter looks at the understanding of facts in two related ways: partisan relationships and ideological orientation. With regard to partisan relationships,...

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