Mendoza, Eduardo

Mendoza, Eduardo
b. 1943, Barcelona
   Writer
   Emerging as a novelist in the post-Franco period, Mendoza has become one of the most significant exponents of the detective genre while also parodying this form to criticize social ills. In 1973 he moved to New York, living there until 1982 while supporting himself as a translator. His novels depart from the experimentalism of the Spanish "new novel" (popular during most of the 1960s and 1970s) since he accords relatively little importance to discourse and instead brings back plot and story to the narrative. The Truth about the Savolta Case (La verdad sobre el caso Savolta, 1975) propelled Mendoza into the national limelight when the novel—acclaimed by both critics and readers—was awarded the prestigious Critics" Prize in 1976. This work, narrated retrospectively by a first-person narrator who is not the protagonist, contains numerous intertexts in the form of newspaper clippings and excerpts from other narratives, plus the registers of crossexamination and the argot of the lower classes.
   The two novels that follow, El misterio de la cripta embrujada (The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt) (1979) and El laberinto de las aceitunas (The Olives Labyrinth) (1982), are essentially parodies of "tough guys" fiction. These novels, set in contemporary Barcelona, depict and implicitly denounce the poverty and crime overwhelming the lower classes. Both feature the same protagonist and satirize the social injustice and moral shortcomings of Barcelona society. In The City of Marvels (La ciudad de los prodigios, 1986) Mendoza returns to an epoch which he as author knows only through documentation. The events take place between two World Fairs held in Barcelona, in 1888 and 1929 respectively. This critically acclaimed work reconstructs the career of Onofre Bouvila, a man who rises from an obscure, lower class and socioeconomic background to fabulous wealth. From his beginnings as a street urchin, he attains inordinate wealth thanks to his keen mind and unabashed cynicism. Onofre could be considered a picaresque figure whose social ascent results from a myriad of questionable activities such as gangsterism, real estate speculation, illicit arms production and trafficking, and political manipulations. Onofre acquires dimensions beyond those usual for a fictional character, since apparently the author meant him to symbolize the rise of the Barcelona bourgeoisie; his activities mirror the acquisitive pursuits of this class during the same period. Sin noticias de Gurb (Without News from Gurb) (1991) concerns the search for an extra-terrestrial who, after assuming the identity of the singer Marta Sánchez, has disappeared without trace in the urban jungle of Barcelona. This setting affords the author the opportunity to reveal the underbelly of the city and expose all its blemishes and injustices.
   Further reading
   - Hickey, L. (1990) "Deviancy and Deviation in Eduardo Mendoza's Enchanted Crypt", Anales de la literatura española contemporánea 15, 1–3: 51– 63 (an illuminating analysis of the novel).
   - Resina, J.R. (1994) "Money, Desire, and History in Eduardo Mendoza's City of Marvels", PMLA 109, 5: 951–68 (a detailed analysis of the underlying theme of the novel, the acquisition of power through wealth).
   - Rodríguez-García, J.M. (1992–3) "Gatsby Goes to Barcelona: On the Configuration of the Post-modern Spanish Novel", Letras Peninsulares 5, 3: 407–27 (compares Fitzgerald's novel with La verdad sobre el caso Savolta in parallel principles of constructive narratology, nonliterary intertexts and spatiotemporal similarities, viewing the later work as postmodern pastiche).
   GENARO J. PÉREZ

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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