Abstract

Colombia is a South American nation that has captured the imagination of the world. It is a land of beautiful colonial cities and towns, famous for coffee production, rich emerald mines, and the literature of José Asunción Silva and Gabriel García Márquez. Colombia’s beauty and rich literary history, however, are often overshadowed by the memory of Pablo Escobar, a notorious drug lord, and numerous deadly guerilla groups. Their roles in the international drug trade made Colombia the top producer and exporter of cocaine, which resulted in terrorism and violence that left the country one of the world’s most dangerous.1 In this article, I will explore how violence in Colombia has perpetuated the theme of hopelessness in the nation’s literature beginning in the mid-twentieth century. I will show this in three parts. Firstly, I will trace the history of violence in Colombia through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and show that a literary genre of violence was absent in the nation until 1946, when the period known as “la Violencia” commenced. Secondly, I will explore how hopelessness resulted from violence in Colombia beginning in the period of “la Violencia.” Thirdly, I will show how violence is depicted as an evil that traps the protagonists of the contemporary Colombian novels La Virgen de Los Sicarios and Satanás in a state of hopelessness due to their powerlessness to truly change themselves because of the frustrated society in which they live.

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