The present thesis focuses on the life and work of Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003), looking in particular at the way in which he enacts (and reflects upon) social responsibility through his life and works. Hence, the main research question posed in this thesis is: What is the social role of the writer as represented in the novels and enacted in the (literary) life of Roberto Bolaño? Through a study of the biography of the writer, his non-fictional discourses and the novels La literatura nazi en América and Los detectives salvajes, I argue that the role of the writer as enacted by Roberto Bolaño was to remain in a marginal position both in society and in the literary field, so that he could maintain independence from social and literary institutions. From this marginal point of view Bolaño could uphold a critical position towards society and the literary establishment. In particular, I attempt to show that one of the main roles that Bolaño has played through his works of literature is one of a literary historian; a historian who advocates distrust of the discourses of official literary history, provides alternatives ways to look at the recent history of Latin American literature and urges his readers to engage in their own investigations
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