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The Colombian Political Novel 1951–1987

A Critical Contribution

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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 Two: The Politics and Ideology of Bipartisanism, Populism and Anticommunism

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← 72 | 73 →CHAPTER TWO

Many novels of the period at work in this book share common characteristics of bipartisanism, populism and anticommunism: El 9 de abril (1951) by Pedro Gómez Corena, El día del odio (1952) by José Antonio Osorio Lizarazo and Viernes 9 (1953) by Ignacio Gómez Dávila, all three present the best example of them in that bipartisanism and populism are expressed either transposing the name of Gaitán or using it in connection with the interests of the dispossessed. These novels in different ways show inequality as their common denominator with slight variants in which a class struggle becomes evident. The novels show either the profligate way of life of the ruling and upper class or a noticeable absence of the state in which institutional structures are perceived as trampling on the needs of the lower classes.

In these works a stock character is either a lawyer, a poet, a con man, or a priest advising members of the upper class in opposition to the middle or lower classes. The middle and lower classes are often perceived in the form of a nameless multitude or only represented by a transitional member of the society, that is, a peasant coming to work in the city, whose social mobility is hindered by government structures or by the very upper class for whom they work. Contemporary power, social, economic and cultural issues are portrayed in each of the works and, in particular,...

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