The Meaning of Perfidia: James Ellroy’s New Novel

The Venetian Vase

We now know a little bit more about the plot of James Ellroy’s forthcoming novel, but the significance of the title, Perfidia, has not, to my knowledge, been commented on. Put simply ‘perfidia’ is the Spanish word for perfidy, meaning treachery or betrayal. It is also the name of a very popular song by the Mexican composer Alberto Dominguez released in 1939. The impact of the song on popular culture has been huge. It has been recorded by artists such as Julie London, Glenn Miller and Nat King Cole to name just a few and has appeared on the soundtrack of many movies, notably Now Voyager (1942) and Casablanca (1942). Ellroy has referenced the song before. In The Black Dahlia (1987), the lovers Kay Lake and Lee Blanchard dance to ‘Perfidia’ on New Year’s Eve, 1947. Their best friend Dwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichert looks on, realising he has…

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