Theory, Genre, and Memory in the Carvalho Series of Manuel VÁzquez MontalbÁn

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Manuel Vázquez Montalbán is one of Spain’s more prolific, prominent, and controversial contemporary writers. His articles, poems, short stories, and novels have been acclaimed for their insightful view of a society which is recognized as a model for the transformation of opposing ideologies into a working relationship. His best know collection is the Carvalho series, stories about a private detective whose wit and irony reveal a state of affairs that many might wish hidden. Barcelona is an ideal setting for that conflict of the classes, political ideals which is at the heart of the author’s chronicle of the post-Civil War years and the Transition.


“Bayó Belenguer’s text offers an entirely new critical focus on Vázquez Montalbán’s crime novels….discusses notions of ‘high’ and ‘low’, particularly pertinent given Vázquez Montalbán’s extensive use of elements of both in his detective texts, considers the didactic functions of literature, and reviews the creative role of the writer before moving on to an overview of Vázquez Montalbán’s commentaries on literature and literary movements…..undoubtedly innovative in its thematic approach and will prove an interesting addition to the specialist scholar’s library…” – Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies

“. . . a well-structured, erudite and highly perceptive piece of scholarship, that will add significantly to our understanding of the work of an important Spanish writer of the second half of the twentieth century. The author of this book shows a thorough critical mastery of the works of Vázquez Montalbán, his non-Carvalho fiction, the Carvalho series itself, and his essays; and also an impressive familiarity with the studies of those critics who have written about his works. . . . it will be very well received by a wide range of readers, interested in detective fiction, the relationship between popular and classical culture, the contemporary Spanish novel, and of course, the works of Vázquez Montalbán.” – James Whiston

“Her concern is to examine the problematic contours of generic and discursive divisions in what constitutes popular as against serious art, social commentary as against aesthetic concern. . . . Dr Bayó’s book is a comprehensive and felt inquiry into the significance of Vázquez Montalbán’s Carvalho Series at a crucially defining moment in recent Spanish history. Her contention that these novels represent a significant moral critique of a society is extremely well argued from beginning to end. Stylistically, her argument is handled with aplomb.” – Ciaran Cosgrove

“. . . presents a literary and sociological analysis of the detective novel, one of the most important genres associated with Vázquez Montalbán and a genre that is, without doubt , unique in modern and contemporary Spanish literature. She examines the concept and definition of the ‘novella negra’ within the realm of popular fiction and identifies the association of this genres, in the case of the Carvalho Series, with realism, the socio-political context and a mainly negative view of the world. . . . .A contrast is drawn between the independence of the character of Carvalho and the frequent intrusion of the author while the backdrop of Barcelona is examined in the light of political activity, social problems, and corruption.” – Martin Farrell

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Author and Continuum (author’s view of literature; pre-Carvalho sylistic devices; two pre-Carvalho works)
3. Theory and Practice (perspectives on literature; literary influences and devices)
4. Intention and Contention (author’s intention; responses to the series)
5. Detection and Chronicle (detective fiction as referent; social chronicle as referent)
6. Context and Character
Envoi; notes; appendices; bibliography; index

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