The postmodern traces of Pérez-Reverte's novels

Date

2005

Authors

Ocón-Garrido, Rocío

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Abstract

This dissertation situates the core of Pérez-Reverte’s literary work in the context of literary creation in Spain and in relation to its roots, analyzing it as a response to the postmodern world where it was created. One central question is posed in this study: is Pérez-Reverte a postmodern writer? In order to answer this question, I explore his work according to theories of postmodernism, which helps me discern which elements of his production can be considered modern and which postmodern. The main critics I use for this are Julia Kristeva, Linda Hutcheon, Umberto Eco, and Simone de Beauvoir. These critics were chosen for their deep understanding of the three main topics that I consider relevant to prove Pérez-Reverte’s ascription to postmodernism: his usage of intertextuality, his treatment of history and his construction of characters. My analysis focuses on Pérez-Reverte’s long novels (his so-called “novelas gordas”), primarily on El Maestro de esgrima, El Club Dumas and La Reina del Sur. These works are the most representative of his writing as well as the richest in references. However, some other works are analyzed when needed. Through the study of these novels, I show that Pérez-Reverte’s work has much evolved in the span of two decades (his first novel, El Húsar, was published in 1986). During this time, he grew in the level of intricacy of his plots, and complexity of his characters and style have substantially developed. Moreover, the structure of his novels has gradually moved away from the traditional detective novel pattern, to incorporate more original features. Similarly, this evolution is relevant to the question of whether Pérez-Reverte’s novels are truly postmodern. It is difficult to briefly answer this question since he progressively incorporates postmodern features in his work. Indeed, we could consider that in the continuum from modernity to postmodernity, this writer leans more towards modernity at first, whereas later more towards postmodernity. In order to study this process, I focus my attention on his usage of intertextuality, history and construction of characters. In those three areas, Pérez-Reverte begins by following his models (i.e. mainly detective and action novels) very closely, but soon drifts away from closed structures and perfect moral characters, mixing truth and fiction as well as ‘highbrow’ and popular literature.

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