Eduardo Mendoza’s Crime Novels: The Function of Carnivalesque Discourse in Post-Franco Spain, 1979-2001

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This work examines canonical works of the Spanish novela negra genre – Eduardo Mendoza’s El misterio de la cripta embrujada, El laberinto de aceitunas and La aventura del tocador de señoras. The author applies Bakhtinian theories to analyses of the carnivalesque, situating the novels within the broader tradition of Spanish carnivalesque literature.
Traditionally Mendoza’s crime novels have been examined in light of social critique common to the Spanish novela negra, but this study, explores folkloric elements within these novels to demonstrate that there is a pervading culture of carnival informing Mendoza’s parody of the traditional crime novel.


“. . . this full-length study about all the detective novels by the Catalan author offers a new and fresh approach from the point of view of literary criticism. Carnivalesque theory perfectly suits the fiction analyzed and could also be used in the study of Vázquez Montalbán’s original detective. I am sure that this work will open many new paths within Mendozian studies and many scholars will follow the method employed in this book.” – Prof. José V. Saval, University of Edinburgh

“. . . provides new insight into the development of the crime genre in Spain and develops in innovative ways Bakhtin’s theory of the carnivalesque. . . . Whereas traditionally Mendoza’s crime novels have been examined in light of social critique common to the Spanish novela negra, in this study, Gagliardi Trotman explores the folkloric elements within these novels to show that there is a pervading culture of carnival which informs Mendoza’s parody of the traditional crime novel. . . . Gagliardi Trotman argues perceptively that the anti-authoritarianism and social critique of the Spanish novela negra is, in essence, carnivalesque. Reading the “Ceferino” novels in this light, Gagliardi Trotman presents innovative re-readings which see these texts as destabilising not only the generic conventions of the classic and hard-boiled detective novels, but also as representing the spirit of festivalización of the Spanish Transition to Democracy.” – Dr. Stewart King, Monash University

“. . . will quickly become an essential update for scholars of this important literary figure in contemporary Spain." – Prof. David Knutson, Xavier University

“. . . this study perfectly shows the three Ceferino novels as a coherent trilogy, in which marginality (both in terms of the main characters and the central discourse) is the undeniable link that keeps the series together. . . . this reality is something previous studies have failed to address.” – Dr. Jorge Alcides Paredes, University of Adelaide

Table of Contents

Foreword, Dr. José V. Saval
Spanish novela negra – History and Criticism
The author: Eduardo Mendoza
Criticism on Eduardo Mendoza
The Chapters Ahead
1. Carnival
Carnival Life
Carnivalesque Literature
Grotesque Realism
Carnival: The Spanish Tradition
17th Century: Cervantes
Contemporary Carnivalesque
The Ceferino Series
2. Free and Familiar Contact
Free contact
Familiar contact
Carnival Banqueting
The Ceferino Series: Towards a Free and Familiar Barcelona
Let the Party Begin: Official Sanctioning in Mendoza’s Carnival
Free at Last: A Triumph Over Order
One Big, Happy Family: Familiarity in the Ceferino Series
Let’s Eat: Food in the Ceferino Series
A Category Adopted
3. Eccentricity
What is Eccentricity?
Eccentricity and Society
Mendoza’s Eccentrics: Identity, Madness and Grotesque Realism
Aliases and Disguises
Wise Madmen and Mad Wise Men
Grotesque Characters
The Popular Comic Tradition of Women
Eccentricity – A New Norm
4. Carnivalistic Mésalliances
The Language of Carnival
Why Mésalliances? Incongruence and Humour
Language in the Ceferino Series
Baroque and Gothic Discourse
Unexpected Professional Discourse and Foreign Languages
Flattery and Exaggeration
Incongruence Between Signifier and Signified
5. Profanation
Profanation: Towards a Critical Framework
Bakhtin and Profanation
Profanation in the Ceferino Series
Mendoza’s Dirty Works: Scatology, Grotesque Realism and Sex
Mendoza’s King of Fools: The World-Upside-Down
The Series: A Parody of Traditional Detective Fiction

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