What makes a book a classic? I’ve been wondering about this for some time, and over the years I’ve amassed a wealth of clues. The question is now returned withSouth Seas ”(Feltrinelli Editore) by Manuel Vazquez Montalbán. And it’s a complicated question here because of another aspect: can a detective epic novel be considered a classic?
Broadcasting is becoming more and more accustomed to the rapid consumption of stories and their episodes. A famous situation – and it makes no sense to discuss it here – is that it is ironed for every weave and inlaid with every weave, making it to the finish most of the time. Can we say today that such an episode of La Casa di Carta, Homeland or The Walking Dead is in itself a masterpiece? Maybe yes, but as long as we (and there are) interpreters for that particular string. This, on the other hand, happens, issue after issue, in blogs dedicated to some eternal and serialized comics like Tex or Zagor. But the masterpiece is good: should we also say that the episode is a classic, and thus is out of sequence as well? I guess we wouldn’t even say that about an entire series, or at least not quite as easily as we apply the category of “classic” in literature. What’s the infinite difference between a TV series episode and a literary epic chapter?
Not much, however literature may be involved, but in the second case we are more inclined to imagine exceptions. It happened, for me, for example, with the “Southern Seas”. A detective story that belongs in a story – the story of private detective Beppe Carvalho – able to amaze with its style and ingenuity even today, forty years after its release. We are contemporaries, this book and I, at least in Italy: both were born in 1982. The original Spanish goes back three years, which is why it tells us about the everyday world in which we inevitably find it difficult to recognize ourselves as well. who saw him. There are no computers, no internet, no cell phones. And in the investigations, no DNA tests or images from surveillance cameras were taken. However, the logic and characterization of the human species remains.
The point is that in those 40 years you can really find the tangible traces of a masterpiece. It is said that Pepe Carvalho took the hand of the Spanish people and accompanied them in the 1980s., opening their eyes to the final years of authoritarianism that has subtly normalized over time. A task that can still be clearly read today in his novels, just a sentence about imprisonment, a reference to the political police, a disclosure of a certain caution in the treatment of certain topics, or the many forbidden concrete facts placed between the lines or in parentheses.
This would be enough to set Montalbàn and Carvalho apart from the quiet usual of a serial detective. However, this is minimal, because the greatness of Montalbani’s design, after 40 years, can be clearly seen in two other factors. The complex description of Western society, for example. With his stereotypes, and the rigidity that the detective reveals unusually and ironically. The second factor is An insane – yes, insane – ability to look ahead, makes Montalbán’s political and social arguments so long-running that they arrive intact and are still useful even here. As old and shiny as you like, but just right, shiny and fun.
A touch of class? The whole detective story is fictional. Which should be in the center Instead, parallel to the description of the Spanish and Western social universe, it runs down the track, page after page, and only surfaces at the end, which is also totally fun and suspense-stimulating, with mustache to Csi, science and technology thriller characters today. We forgot it, Montalbán’s yellow plot, taken by Carvalho’s analyzes, the gossip of his interlocutors, the characterization of stereotypes and Carvalho’s harsh social judgment. Then there is Baby Carvalho. His hunger, his recipes, his screaming death, and the burning of books Like wood logs drinking wine and a crow frozen to the point of fainting. Gabriel Vàzquez Montalban gave us a wonderful gift with Pepe, who in turn gave the go-ahead to the local Montalbano, whose name begins with a loving and undeserved son. Can we say, in addition to all this, or perhaps in its function, that the “Southern Seas” is also a classic? We can, perhaps, yes. Realizing that right after Pepe himself, precisely at the post of this label, he would take his book, and, after caressing the cover for the last time, he would fire it up with gusto.
© All Rights Reserved