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    The Trauma of Nature: Antonio Di Benedetto’s Zama as Ecological Noir

    Conlon, David (2017) The Trauma of Nature: Antonio Di Benedetto’s Zama as Ecological Noir. Modern Languages Open, March (2017). ISSN 2052-5397

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    This paper suggests a reading of Zama (1956), the acclaimed debut novel of Argentine writer Antonio Di Benedetto, from an eco-critical perspective. In light of a remark by Sergio Chejfec, it will look at how the novel’s eponymous protagonist, a colonial-era bureaucrat based in Asunción, encounters the natural environment as traumatic, engendering cognitive upheaval. On this basis, it will go on to consider how the work conforms to a variant of Bildungsroman, or, in this case, novel of ecological apprenticeship, insofar as the protagonist undergoes a process of cognitive re-orientation as his experience of the environment comes into conflict with Old World epistemologies. It will be argued that the temporal setting is, for this reason, significant, as it sets the action against the backdrop of then-emergent geological and proto-Darwinian discourses. In the final sections, the paper aims to contextualise the novel’s publication in 1956 in terms of its affiliations with film noir, and to assess the grounds for considering noir as a paradigm for understanding latter-day iterations of the Bildungsroman, as well as an exemplary modality for the working-through of post-World War II epistemological trauma. Finally, and within the same broadly eco-critical framework, some reasons will be suggested for the renewed interest in Di Benedetto’s novel in recent years.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Cite as: Conlon, D., 2017. The Trauma of Nature: Antonio Di Benedetto’s Zama as Ecological Noir. Modern Languages Open, p.None. DOI:
    Keywords: Nature; Antonio Di Benedetto; Zama; Ecological Noir; Bildungsroman; eco-critical framework;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures > Spanish
    Item ID: 11279
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: David Conlon
    Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2019 16:16
    Journal or Publication Title: Modern Languages Open
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Refereed: Yes
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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