Art and Anger pp 121-130 | Cite as


  • Ilan Stavans


Detective thrillers—”beach reading” to many North Americans—have been serious staples of Latin American literature for better than a half-century. And more than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere, Argentina is known as the crib of first-rate armchair private eyes who, stylistically and verbally Europeanized, have devoted themselves to deciphering labyrinthine adventures in contexts that are psychologically ambiguous and politically corrupt. As the author of classic tales like “Death and the Compass” and “The Garden of Forking Paths”, Jorge Luis Borges was almost single-handedly responsible for granting crime fiction a highbrow, nearly metaphysical status. Alone and in collaboration with his friend Adolfo Bioy Casares, he imagined bookish detectives such as Erik Lönnrot and Don Isidro Parodi, who, often from an insulated cell or while playing intellectual tricks, resolve unlikely mysteries through deductive logic. Aside from Borges, Julio Cortázar, who translated Edgar Allan Poe’s entire oeuvre into Spanish, was also a practitioner of sorts. His brief “Continuation of the Parks” is a postmodern tale in which the searcher is also the object of his own search.


Artificial Respiration Classic Tale Detective Fiction Crime Fiction Opposite Neighborhood 
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© Ilan Stavans 1996

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  • Ilan Stavans

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