Latin American Boom Literature

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Historical Context

  • Boom based in 1950s-60s
  • Was a worldwide growth in recognition of Latin American literature and culture
  • Political attention was on Latin America
    • Cuban Revolution 1953-1959 
      • Fidel Castro and 26th of July Movement
      • Fulgencio Batista (gvt.)
    • Series of golpes in LA. eg Chile 
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Key Features of Boom Literature

  • Experimental style
  • High culture
  • Non-linear plot/circular narrative
  • Use of magical realism
  • Critique of political reality
    • Liberal/left wing authors- cultural manifestation of political ideologies throuhg metaphorical writing
  • Narrativa/Novela de Dictadores 

Effects of Boom Lit. 

  • International readerships and reputations
  • Influential genre - magical realism
  • Rise of publishing houses in LA
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Narrativa/Novela de Dictadores

  • Use of fictional and historical figures
  • Written in a period of multiple LA dictatorships
  • Common themes: injustice, death, corruption, authority
  • Authoritarian/military/caudillo figures
  • Minor themes: economic oppresion, gender, sexuality. 
  • Examples:
    • El doño del patriarca (García Marquez, 1975)
    • El señor presidente (Asturias, 1946)
    • La fiesta del chivo (Vargas Llosa, 2000)

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Magical Realism

  • Narrative technique associated with Latin America
  • Uses fantastic or mythical elements in otherwise realistic fiction
  • hyperbole/ excess/ supernatural in an everyday setting
  • Magical elements treated as commonplace, everyday occurances - confusing for those unfamiliar with M.R. 
  • Allows for deeper exploration of metaphor and emotion in the text. 

Effects of Magical Realism 

  • Literary reaction against realism 
  • Blurs boundaries of life and death in fiction
  • Way of expressing the LA reality for new interpretations 
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The Big Four

  • Gabriel García Marquez
    • From Colombia
    • 1982 Lit. Nobel Prize
    • Associated with M. R. 
    • Active in Boom and Post Boom 
    • 'Cien años de soledad' 
  • Carlos Fuentes 
    • From Mexico 
    • 1928-2012
    • Active in Boom and Post Boom 
    • 'La muerte de Artemio Cruz' 1962
      • Experiments with perspective and tense 
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The Big Four Cont.

  • Mario Vargas Llosa
    • From Peru 
    • 2010 Lit. Nobel Prize
    • Boom and Post Boom 
  • Julio Cortázar 
    • From Argentina 
    • Stream of consciousness style, very experimental
    • 'Rayuela' 1963 - key Boom text
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