Detective fiction in Cuban society and culture
The object of this thesis is to reach towards an understanding of 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 method has been to trace the development of Cuban detective writing and to read Padura Fuentes 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 from which this genre emerged. By concentrating on the literary texts, I have explored readings which lead out into an analysis of the broader philosophical, political and historical issues raised by the Cuban revolution. Since it deals primarily with modes of deviance and notions of legality and justice within the context of the modern state, detective fiction is particularly well suited to this type of investigation. The intention is to show how this is as valid in the Cuban context as it is in advanced capitalist societies where such research has already been carried out with some success. The thesis comprises an introduction, ten chapters and a conclusion. The chapters are divided into three sections. Chapters 1 to 3 attempt a broad theoretical, historical and socio-political analysis of the cultural reality within which the Cuban revolutionary detective genre emerged. Chapters 4 to 6 analyse the Cuban detective narrative from its inception in the early part of the twentieth century until the emergence of Leonardo Padura Fuentes as the foremost exponent of the genre in Cuba after 1991. Chapters 7- 10 concentrate upon the work of Leonardo Padura Fuentes, offering a reading of his detective tetralogy informed by the preceding discussion. The contribution made by the thesis to knowledge of the subject is to build upon the work of Seymour Menton and Amelia S. Simpson on the development of the Cuban detective novel and to provide analyses of the pre-Revolutionary Cuban detective narrative and the work of Leonardo Padura Fuentes for the first time in the English language. The thesis 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. In particular, it proves that Cuban detective fiction provides a useful barometer of social change which records the shifts in the Cuban Zeitgeist that have taken place over the past century.