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Mourning El Dorado

Literature and Extractivism in the Contemporary American Tropics
Charlotte Rogers


BUY Cloth · 368 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942650 · $79.50 · Jul 2019
BUY Paper · 368 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942667 · $39.50 · Jul 2019
BUY Ebook · 368 pp. · ISBN 9780813942674 · $79.50 · Jul 2019

What ever happened to the legend of El Dorado, the tale of the mythical city of gold lost in the Amazon jungle? Charlotte Rogers argues that El Dorado has not been forgotten and still inspires the reckless pursuit of illusory wealth. The search for gold in South America during the colonial period inaugurated the "promise of El Dorado"—the belief that wealth and happiness can be found in the tropical forests of the Americas. That assumption has endured over the course of centuries, still evident in the various modes of natural resource extraction, such as oil drilling and mining, that characterize the region today.

Mourning El Dorado looks at how fiction from the American tropics written since 1950 engages with the promise of El Dorado in the age of the Anthropocene. Just as the golden kingdom was never found, natural resource extraction has not produced wealth and happiness for the peoples of the tropics. While extractivism enriches a few outsiders, it results in environmental degradation and the subjugation, displacement, and forced assimilation of native peoples. This book considers how the fiction of five writers—Alejo Carpentier, Wilson Harris, Mario Vargas Llosa, Álvaro Mutis, and Milton Hatoum—criticizes extractive practices and mourns the lost illusion of the forest as a place of wealth and happiness.

Reviews:


"The five novels discussed in this study shed a brand new light on the legacies of the myth of El Dorado in Latin American literatures. Rogers goes beyond the idea that the legend of El Dorado was debunked by the Enlightenment and demonstrates that there is an obvious link between colonial and contemporary times. This is a strong line of investigation which resonates with the most recent debates in Latin American scholarship."

Fabienne Viala, University of Warwick, author of The Post-Columbus Syndrome: Identities, Cultural Nationalism and Commemorations in the Caribbean

About the Author: 

Charlotte Rogers, Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia, is the author of Jungle Fever: Exploring Madness and Medicine in Twentieth-Century Tropical Narratives.

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