Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Enrico Mario Santí

Second Advisor

Dr. Sussan Carvalho


This dissertation engages a reading of three important themes in the narrative of Fernando Vallejo (1942- ) between 1994 and 2010: religion, politics and language. The dissertation concentrates on five novels: La virgen de los sicarios (1994), El desbarrancadero (2001), La Rambla paralela (2002), Mi hermano el alcalde (2004) y El don de la vida (2010). All three of the themes we explore are thematic trademarks of the former Spanish Empire that soured Vallejo’s arcadian dream of Santa Anita, a Paradise Lost or ideal nation that triggers the grammarian narrator´s desire of Vallejo’s works. Vallejo´s elusive satisfaction of that desire is reflected in the recurring voice of his narrative, a voice that in each novel attempts to destroy the archaic institutions that sustains those three themes.

The dissertation consist of three chapters. Chapter I: “La virgen de los sicarios(1994 – 2000): Religion, Moral Panic and Secularization,” studies the impact of this text (both novel and film) in late 20th century Colombia. We study in particular the scandalous moral panic that followed the film version (2000) and thus attracted global recognition for Vallejo´s work. Chapter II: “Ideological Marginality As Political Attitude”, examines Vallejo´s ideological position against Colombia´s traditional value system in three works: La virgen de los sicarios (1994), El desbarrancadero (2001) y Mi hermano el alcalde (2004). Vallejo’s self-conscious narrative cries against the Republican institutional model in order to rethink the Colombian subject in the responsible satisfaction of desire. Both in this chapter and in Chapter III La virgen occupies a central object of our reading, as it marks a new beginning in Vallejo’s narrative. Finally, Chapter III, “Vallejian Poetics” studies his poetics, meaning the main narrative strategies of his novels. We based our reading on two additional works: La rambla paralela (2002) and El don de la vida (2010). In them we can identify how Vallejo’s apparently hybrid self-fictional style connects with the most traditional Latin American themes reflected in its literature, while also distancing itself from it.

We conclude that Vallejo´s narrative is a revolutionary linguistic exercise integrating restrained voices within the dominant, narrow-minded lettered culture.