The dictator novel has become a staple of Latin American literature in the 20th century. As the intersection of art, culture, and politics, these novels are interested in painting intimate pictures of their dictator to examine the psychology of power and the lure of authoritarianism. This project focuses on analyzing the the rise and fall of Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina (1891–1961) through literary lenses. This project compares the ways in which Trujillo and his regime (El Trujillato) are portrayed in both non-fiction and historical fiction. Trujillo was an excellent storyteller, known for his cult of personality and rewriting the Dominican Republic’s history to revolve around him. Therefore, comparing the nuances of how authors approach narratives in literature and history will paint a more comprehensive picture of Trujillo’s character and deconstruct Trujillo’s official historical narrative. This project’s corpus includes the comparative non-fiction source Trujillo: The Death of the Dictator (1978) by Bernard Diederich. It also includes two novels: The Feast of the Goat (2000) by Mario Vargas Llosa, and In the Time of Butterflies (1994) by Julia Alvarez. These authors counter Trujillo’s official narrative with their own narrative choices and highlight his victims’ voices. They portray Trujillo as a weak ruler that was merely replicating the processes of the colonial powers before him. In particular, these texts portray how Trujillo adopted the racial notions of the Spanish Empire and the gendered notions of the United States.
Brown, Jocelyn R.
"Goats Die, Butterflies Fly: Portrayals of Dominican Dictator Rafael Trujillo (1891–1961) in Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction,"
Ramifications: Vol. 3:
1, Article 1.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wcupa.edu/ramifications/vol3/iss1/1