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Discovering Costa Rica Through Legendary Works Of Literature

Discovering Costa Rica Through Legendary Works Of Literature

Costa Rica! The name instantly reminds of Jurassic Park. Doesn’t it? Yes, the Costa Rica of Jurassic Park fame is theme country for this year’s International Kolkata Book Fair scheduled from 25 jan- 4th feb, 2017. Now let us discover Costa Rica through its literature.

Well for starters the film was wrong Costa Rica isn’t an island nation. Though it was based on Costa Rica they didn’t film a single shot there.  On the contrary to popular belief Costa Rica resides in the Central America region barricaded by panama in the south and Nicaragua in the north. In the eastern and western region, the Caribbean Sea and the  Pacific Ocean borders it respectively.


This dynamic land of incredible flora and fauna has been a Spanish colony from the 16th century. It gained freedom in 1821.Tthen it went on to be ruled by the Mexican Empire till 1838 when it became part of The United Provinces of Central America. Thus, similar to India Costa rica has rich colonial heritage and similar to us it has been riffed by civil war in 1948.

These phases and transitions of Costa Rica have largely impacted its literature. As the times we live our writings so does our notable literary works impact our society. This was true for Costa Rica as it is in any other part of the world. Here, we are tracing the roots of Costa Rica through legendary literary works of the country.

The origin of literature in Costa Rica dates back to the colonial rule. From then on to the present time the discourse of literature has changed according to changing dynamics. These changing dynamics have attributed to certain specific periods in literature.

La Trinchera by Manuel Arguello Mora

The late 1890 and the early 1900s period is known as the Olympus generation literature. Writers of this stage reflects the high nationalistic fervour of a newly formed nation. La Trinchera, a famous novel of this period bears testimonial of this period. It is written by Manuel Arguello Mora, one of the earliest and most prolific writers of Costa Rica. This is a historic novel depicting Mora Porras’ struggle against William Walker forces. This book depicts the first war of the Costa Rican region which eventually lead to the rule of Mora Porras’ after 3 wars.

El Moto by Joaquin Garcia Monge

The turn of the new century gave rise to liberal ways of thinking. Writing styles changed to less formal version. The feeling of nationalism was still retained in their writing. Instead of serious writing, satire dark humour and parodies gained predominance. Writers like Joaquín García Monge, Mario Sancho, Carmen Lyra are part of this repertory generation (1920-1940). El Moto by Joaquin Garcia Monge is the most prolific novel of this period. The novel tells the story of young  educated José Blas who falls in love with a wealthy gamonal’s daughter named Cuindila Guillen. This novel usher-ins the   American way of writing. Though a love story, yet novel depicts the rigid class division between the wealthy gamonals and poor peasants. The novel mocks the oppression of the peasant class by the gamonals.


Mamita Yunai by Carlos Luis Fallas

The late 1940s witnessed various land reforms and social reforms. This made way for more liberal views as democracy and democratic principles set in. This 40s generation (1940-1960) brought forward writers like Fabián Dobles, Carlos Luis Fallas and others. The liberal times made the most dynamic society where people voiced their opinions and views. This was also the time when Costa Rica was riffed with civil wars and frequent demand of rights from the working class.

 Mamita Yunai, a novel by Carlos Luis Fallas is a famous novel of this period. The novel deals with the plight of Banana plantation workers. Fallas, himself was banana plantation loader and hence he had first-hand knowledge of the working conditions of the labourers. Later on he went on lead strikes of these plantation workers.  The story is of person named José Francisco Sibaja, who sent to a remote location to oversee fraudulent voting. The inhabitants of the region are native Indians with little knowledge of the official Spanish language and most of them are plantation labourers. The condition of the natives is  vividly described in this novel. It is a classic of Costa Rica’s literature. The English version of the novel is available worldwide.


Guerrilleros by Jorge Debravo

The late 1960s sowed the seeds of an urban population. Urban structure, city life and industrial progress marked this era. The writings of the urban period (1960-1980) mirrored this aspect of changing society. Writers like Carmen Naranjo, Jorge Debravo, Alfonso Chase and others graced this period. Jorge Debravo, the young poet who died at the tender age of 29 was one of the most prolific writers of his time. His birthday, January 31 is celebrated as The National Poetry Day in Costa Rica. Guerrilleros, a collection of poem by Jorge Debravo is a legendary work of this period.


El Teatro Circular by Oscar Nunez Oliva

After the 1980s the disenchantment period began. This perid deals with current crop writers like Oscar Núñez Oliva. Writers of this generation have brought in new ways of writings. They are open to experimentation and dabble with different genres. The realism of the past generation are not to be found in this era. El Teatro Circular, the first novel of Oscar Nunez Oliva is one of the best novel of recent times. The book won the national prize of Costa Rica in 1998. The book is currently out of print but several others by the author are available.

Cadence of the Moon by Oscar Nunez Oliva

One of his recent works Cadence of the Moon, tells a romantic story in the back drop of a murder mystery. A horrific series of serial killings has gripped the Costa Rican country and the police is trying desperately to nab the culprit. In this troubled times a love affair strikes the chief investigating detective and female crime reporter. The story depicts the case of Costa Rica’s first serial killer. Try your hand at this gripping romantic thriller.



So, there you go discovering Costa Rica through literature – one book at a time. What are you waiting for? Hurry up and visit the book fair to get a grasp of matters. Get set go, unleash the land from the Jurassic Park Film!!






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