Pirate Novels

Fictions of Nation Building in Spanish America

Pirate Novels

Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 5 illustrations Published: October 1999

Latin American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Pirate Novels Nina Gerassi-Navarro examines an overlooked genre to reveal how history and fiction blend to address important isuses of nation building in nineteenth-century Spanish America. In the figure of the pirate, bold and heroic to some, cruel and criminal to others, she reveals an almost ideal character that came to embody the spirit of emerging nationhood and the violence associated with the struggle to attain it.
Beginning with an overview of the history of piracy, Gerassi-Navarro traces the historical icon of the pirate through colonial-era chronicles before exploring a group of nineteenth-century Mexican, Colombian, and Argentine novels. She argues that the authors of these novels, in their reconstructions of the past, were less interested in accurate representations than in using their narratives to discuss the future of their own countries. In reading these pirate narratives as metaphors for the process of nation building in Spanish America, Gerassi-Navarro exposes the conflicting strains of a complex culture attempting to shape that future. She shows how these pirate stories reflect the on-going debates that marked the consolidation of nationhood, as well as the extent to which the narratives of national identity in Spanish America are structured in relation to European cultures, and the ways in which questions of race and gender were addressed.
Providing new readings of the cultural and political paradigms that marked the literary production of nineteenth-century Spanish America, Pirate Novels uniquely expands the range of texts usually examined in the study of nation-building. It will interest literary scholars generally as well as those engaged in Latin American, colonial, and postcolonial studies.


Pirate Novels is a well-written and well-documented approach to a corpus of historical fictions which have not previously been the focus of sustained critical attention. Nina Gerassi-Navarro’s contribution to studies of the nineteenth-century historical novel will undoubtedly be of tremendous use to scholars in this field.” — Kimberle S. López , Colonial Latin American Historical Review

Pirate Novels undoubtedly opens up a new field of research, sheds light onto a problem, and onto a parcel of the Spanish American literary corpus quite left in the dark. This book will turn out to be a seminal text from which a distinctive body of scholarship may grow.” — Juan Pablo Dabove , Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies

“Gerassi-Navarro has engaged with the literature intelligently and has presented her arguments with skill. She makes a persuasive case for the reexamination of nineteenth-century pirate novels as illustrative of the deep conflicts and contradictions at the heart of the nation building process in Spanish America.” — Lynn Walford , South Eastern Latin Americanist

“Gerassi-Navarro has uncovered some overlooked or unappreciated nineteenth-century melodramatic historical novels focusing on pirates. And she’s provided an imaginative and intriguing interpretation suggesting that these too should be given serious consideration as influential tools deliberately intended by their authors to help build cultural and political nationalism in their respective states. . . . Persuasive. . . .” — Charles W. Macune Jr. , Hispanic American Historical Review

“Nineteenth-century Spanish American writers are not as well-known as their mid-twentieth-century counterparts, so this study gives scholars a look at some authors who merit more scrutiny. At the same time, the reader learns much about political and social issues that concerned post-independence Spanish America—nationalism, racism, the caste and class system, gender.” — S. T. Clark , Choice

“Too long overlooked, the pirate fictions examined in this perceptive book represent a significant contribution to the literary corpus on which recent studies on nation building have focused when analysing post-independence literature in Spanish America. — Donna Fitzgerald , Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"Fascinating and well-researched. . . ." — British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America

"In the wake of a recent proliferation of books about pirates swarming the literary marketplace comes a refreshingly new approach to the subject. . . . Pirate Novels is both scholarly and engaging, with extensive documentation and a useful bibliography. The affordable paperback edition could serve as a topical college text in literature, history, or political science." — Peter R. Galvin , Colonial Latin American Review

“Gerassi-Navarro dares to look at an important blindspot in the construction of modern nations: our cultural and political connections to piracy.” — Doris Sommer, editor of The Places of History: Regionalism Revisited in Latin America

“Marvelously readable and engaging, this is first-rate, original scholarship with an unusual perspective on 19th century Hispanic American society, a perspective made utterly convincing, fascinating, and important.” — Mary G. Berg, Harvard University


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95

Open Access