Amelia Simpson’s introduction to Detective Fiction from Latin America argues that Latin American culture, including its citizens’ pervasive distrust of law and authority, has inhibited its authors from creating a large body of original detective novels. Though these detective works are quite popular with Latinos, the novels must usually be set in countries with strong democratic values and justice systems for them to seem authentic.
The people of Brazil, Cuba and other autocratic countries, where authority is feared from birth and laws and police are harsh tools of oppression, are skeptical of fair, justice-minded detectives thwarting criminals. If a detective novel follows the traditional, rigid, classical form, it will seem unrealistic to Latinos. The more contemporary “hard-boiled” detective novel, with its harsher portrayal of societies that are deeply flawed and teeming with injustice and evil, is a much better fit into the world view of Latin Americans.
Within these increasingly popular works, imperfect societies and behaviors can be revealed, examined and utilized within the detective novel template. The classical detective genre, with its “reassuring view of society,” its “detached, gentlemanly” sleuths, and its clear, fair delineation between good and evil begs skepticism from Latin American readers who find those concepts foreign and unrealistic. These oppressed citizens of “predatory hegemonies” can only accept the democratic precepts of law and order and justice when the classical detective work is set in a plausible setting like America.
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These relatively simple, predictable, rigid “whodunits” have been read and enjoyed by Latino masses, but ironically, Latino authors have not reflexively rushed to quench the market for more classical detective novels. The evolution of the classical version to the “hard-boiled” detective novel that often “reveals a corrupt and violent society,” is more logically embraced by Latin American mystery readers. The “hard-boiled” model incorporates “distrust of institutions and its view of crime as all-pervasive.
” If viewed as a continuum, the classical version is simple and predictable while the hard-boiled is chaotic and more difficult to predict. The classical version uses traditional, stable values of fair justice, while the “hard-boiled” relies on environments filled with turmoil and corruption. The classical genre is rigid, and it’s accepted that “laws are laws. ” Therefore, boundaries are abundant, and good is expected to prevail over evil. Conversely, the “hard-boiled” version removes most societal boundaries and its setting is likely to be “a model of skepticism and failure, of a lost utopia.
” This harsh worldview melds more realistically into the somewhat bleak, dictatorial environment that many Latinos encounter from birth. Thus, Latinos are predisposed to accept the more contemporary, “hard-boiled,” detective novel. Feelings and portrayals of optimism versus pessimism also set the classical detective genre apart from the “hard-boiled” type. America, with its history of freedom and stability and its strong sense of law and order, provides a stable, hopeful environment for the gentlemanly detective. He is free to ply his trade, systematically and fairly plodding to a just resolution of the crime.
This is an Essay that I wrote for World History Research* Throughout history there were many countries exploited by means of invasion. During the age of colonization, Europeans imposed many things on the Latin American territory that have had an extensive, disturbing effect on the indigenous community. Europeans invaded and controlled much of South America and the Caribbean islands by means of ...
A predictable, step-by step, picture can be portrayed with a “mechanistic crime-to-solution sequence. ” On the other hand, Latin Americans are better able to grasp the “hard-boiled” genre where chaos, evil, oppression and injustice thrive. For many Latinos, “the law is feared and, whenever possible, violated. ” They live in a police state and they “breathe and sweat repression. ” This way of life, with fear and suspicion as mainstays, allows “hard-boiled” detective authors to insert hazier motives for oppressed perpetrators who may become criminals out of necessity.
The dark, pessimistic “triumph of the criminal over society’s laws” can seem natural in a hard-boiled work, but would certainly not fit in the classical detective novel template that relies on optimism, justice and sure punishment for the criminal who is pursued and captured by the persistent, reasonable sleuth. The advent of the “hard-boiled” detective novel seems to open the field for Latin American authors to give their countrymen the mysteries that they enjoy and desire. This change has not come quickly.
As recently as 1983 the Brazilian author, Correa, observed that “Brazilian detective literature…with its own, national characteristics, doesn’t exist. ” In the same vein, it took more than half a century for the 1929 “hard-boiled” novel, The Maltese Falcon, to become the best-selling detective novel of 1984 in Brazil. The conservative, rigid classic has finally given way to the contemporary detective novels with their critical societal views that play realistically and believably in Latin America. Sherlock Holmes, while somewhat entertaining and quite competent, is a relic who cannot fit into the world view of Latin Americans.
This classical detective has his limitations and his setting must have boundaries of law and order and benevolent justice. But Latinos can readily embrace and believe flawed, even malevolent sleuths who track criminals in settings where lawlessness and evil are the norm. Thus, Latin American authors have much more latitude and potential for success with their native audiences when they compose “hard-boiled” detective novels. This multi-faceted, contemporary detective genre allows societal flaws to be acknowledged and exploited for the entertainment and intrigue of Latin American readers.
The American Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, religion, and assembly in addition to other significant protections against the suppression of government and official agencies, “provides a noble action and shield of human dignity. ”(Brennan Jr. 1989. p 425) The Bill of rights epitomizes the constant will of humanity for individual rights and protections. Essentially, Bill of Rights as ...