Explosion in a Cathedral

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Explosion in a Cathedral
Author Alejo Carpentier
Original title El Siglo de las Luces
Translator John Sturrock
Country Original: Mexico
English: United States
Language Original: Spanish
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd. (UK); Little, Brown & Co. (US)
Publication date
Published in English
Pages 360
ISBN 978-0-8166-3808-6
OCLC 45636826

Explosion in a Cathedral (Spanish title: El Siglo de las Luces, The Century of Lights) is a historical novel by Cuban writer and musicologist Alejo Carpentier. The book follows the story of three privileged Creole orphans from Havana, as they meet French adventurer Victor Hugues and get involved in the revolutionary turmoil that shook the Atlantic World at the end of the eighteenth century. Originally published in 1962, this is one of the most influential works written during the so-called "Latin American Boom".

Regarded as one of Latin America's greatest historical novels, Explosion in a Cathedral deals with the impact of the French Revolution on the Caribbean.[1] The main characters are all members of one family: two siblings, Carlos and Sofia, and their cousin Esteban.[2] The narrative deals with the cyclical nature of control, destruction, and development during revolution.[3] Stylistically, it contains elements of existentialism[4] and magical realism,[5] and it mirrors the tension between Europe and Latin America found in many of Carpentier's other works.[6]


  1. ^ Swanson, Philip. Latin American Fiction: A Short Introduction, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, p. 78. ISBN 1-4051-0866-5
  2. ^ Pope, Randolph D. "The Spanish American Novel from 1950 to 1975", in The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature, Vol. 2, ed. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria and Enrique Pupo-Walker, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 249. ISBN 0-521-41035-5
  3. ^ Franco, Jean. The Decline and Fall of the Lettered City: Latin America in the Cold War, Harvard University Press, 2002, pp. 168-9. ISBN 0-674-00842-1
  4. ^ Pope, pp. 249-50
  5. ^ Wood, Michael. "Spanish America", in The Oxford Guide to Contemporary World Literature, Ed. John Sturrock, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 394. ISBN 0-19-283318-9
  6. ^ Pope, p. 250