ISABEL ALVAREZ-BORLAND


From Mystery to Parody:
(Re)Readings of García Márquez's
Crónica de una muerte anunciada

Crónica de una muerte anunciada presents the critic with a text which, by way of a complex system of narrative and temporal levels, explores why an entire town allows a senseless murder to occur in the name of hypocritical honor codes. A sociological reading of Crónica traces the backward mentality of small towns in Latin America and elsewhere. The rich system of presagios and the biblical symbolism in the names of the main participants would support the interpretation of the story as a biblical myth, Santiago Nasar as its Christ figure, a scapegoat for the town's bloodthirstiness. Although helpful in the understanding of the text's didactic message, these interpretations only look for solutions in the mimesis of the text, leaving the reader with many unanswered questions regarding the direct references to the creative process contained in Márquez's tale. Analysing these allusions from the standpoint of the detective story as the perfect model of the "hermeneutic tale," the present study envisions this novel as a questioning structure rather than as an answer-providing construct. An analysis of the detective conventions as well as of their aesthetic effect is necessary in the appraisal of a work which has been labeled by reviewers as a "simplistic murder mystery," inferior in quality to the author's previous writings.

García Márquez's text is indeed a detective story which subverts the conventionality of its genre, but which at the same time takes advantage of the genre's inherent traits. Crónica exhibits what, according to Frank Kermode, makes the detective novel the perfect hermeneutic tale: a hermeneu-

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From Symposium 38, no. 4 ( Winter 1984-85). © 1985 by the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation.

-219-

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