Spleen, Nostalgia, and the Reconstruction of Human Time in Leonardo Padura's Las Cuatro Estaciones

Abstract

This paper seeks to highlight the contribution made to detective literature by the Cuban Leonardo Padura, one of Latin America’s foremost contemporary detective writers. With Las cuatro estaciones, his famous tetralogy, Padura became one of the central figures of the Latin American neopoliciaco sub-genre and instilled a definite renewal in Cuban detective fiction. This paper will focus on Padura’s unique ways of departing not only from his national tradition but also from the ‘classic’ and ‘hardboiled’ models, hence illustrating the author’s contribution to the detective genre. It is argued that Padura’s tetralogy most significant innovation is its thorough articulation of the narrative identities of individuals, through a reconstruction of human time (Ricoeur) in present-day Cuba. Las cuatro estaciones can further be thought as a mosaical endeavour (Benjamin) that allows for the capture and additional development of fictional but credible beings’ ipseities. The mosaical endeavour gives rise to other literary strategies, such as a polyphonic narration, the use of the detective pretext and the ironical subversion of the ‘detachment of the detective’ principle. These three strategies enable the author to refigure human time in contemporary Cuban society, in such a way that it becomes possible to grasp the meanings and origins of a generational spleen feeling that can be observed in most of the series’ main characters – and especially in its protagonist, Mario Conde.

Keywords

crime fiction

How to Cite

Zamora, A. & Gélinas, M., (2011) “Spleen, Nostalgia, and the Reconstruction of Human Time in Leonardo Padura's Las Cuatro Estaciones”, Opticon1826 10.

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Authors

Alejandro Zamora (UCL)
Mélissa Gélinas (UCL)

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