READ “THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES” BY ROBERTO BOLANO
1. Write a short essay analyzing Roberto Bolao’s Savage Detectives, considering both the novel’s content as well as its form. Some central issues to consider in constructing your argument include:
What is the role of history in the novel? If the primary development occurs between the years 1975 and 1996, there is nonetheless a prominent presence of Mxico’s 1910 revolution and its aftermath, just as the interlocking with the French Second Empire inhabited by Baudelaire and Rimbaud.
What to make of the formal break constituted by the novels three parts? The initial coming of age plot is rejoined at the end, and brought to a dramatic conclusion that reflects some coherence on the fragmentary vignettes and accounts populating the long second section. How can this formal signature be evaluated on its own right, and what meanings are produced under this technical innovation?
As much as literature itself, autobiography, the pantheon of authors, and the tragedy inherent in writing all present themselves thematically, we might insist that whatever personal truths we can distill from this group of experiences they cannot exist outside of the history referred to above. In other words, perhaps considering the formal aspects again, why does the author’s life appear cast in the historical context that it does, in the one and same work, so to speak?
Draw from these considerations as you see fit to construct an original discussion of the novel and/or one of its disparate parts in focus. Where possible include quotes or close readings to bring about an elevated understanding of the work.