Redefining Modernity in Latin American Fiction: Toward Ecological Consciousness in La loca de Gandoca and Lo que soñó Sebastian

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Octavio Paz has stated, and literary critics have amply documented, that the concept of modernity has been a prominent concern of Latin American intellectuals since the nineteenth century (5). A cursory glance at the terminology used by authors and critics to denominate Latin America's various movements throughout the last 125 years—modernismo, posmodernismo, vanguardia, novela moderna, and ficción posmoderna—provides a sense of the persistent desire of Latin American authors to engage the topic of their nations' positions within modernity. Each of these moments in Latin American literary history reflect what Raymond L. Williams identifies as a "desire to be modern" that manifest itself in unique forms according to historical context and aesthetic aspirations (369). Over the past two decades in Latin America, a corpus of work has emerged that suggests that it is now possible to speak of the environmental novel as a bona fide subgenre of Latin American fiction that undoubtedly merits careful analysis itself.1 In what follows, I would like to suggest that the development of the Latin American environmental novel is a further manifestation of Latin American intellectuals' historical desire to conceive new paradigms of modernity and, moreover, that the emergence of such novels is inextricably linked to Latin Amerca's position within the economic and geopolitical construct of the Global South. That is, Latin American environmental fiction arises in the context of a globalized, neo-colonial order as an aesthetic forum in which authors elaborate counter-discourses to the economic models of modernity that have often been violently imposed by the Global North.

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