Josefina Ludmer, professor of Latin American literature and culture at Yale University, is the editor of Las culturas de fin de siglo en America Latina and the author of several books, including Cien anos de soledad: Una interpretacion and The Gaucho Genre: A Treatise on the Motherland.
An intellectual tour de force from one of today’s leading critics of Latin American literature and culture, The Corpus Delicti (The Body of Crime) is a manual of crime, a compendium of crime tales, and an extended meditation on the central role of crime in literature, in life, and in the life of the nation. Drawing her examples from canonical texts, popular novels, newspaper serials, and more, Josefina Ludmer captures the wide range of Argentine crime stories and detective fiction from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She offers more than a mere genre study, examining the relationship of crime and punishment to the formation of law, the body, and the modern state, exposing the ways in which literature—both high art and mass culture—can help construct, not just represent, social reality. Covering a dazzling array of primary sources, social history, and cultural theory, this provocative work is also a structural masterpiece, challenging readers as it charts new roles for text and notes. In this redefined dialogue, the notes variously offer alternate views, additional insights, and, often, parallel commentaries. Glen Close’s stylish translation captures the energy of Ludmer’s prose—simultaneously subtle and daring—for English-language readers.