Jungle Fever: Exploring Madness and Medicine in Twentieth-century Tropical Narratives

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Vanderbilt University Press, 2012 - Literary Criticism - 234 pages
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The sinister "jungle"--that ill-defined and amorphous place where civilization has no foothold and survival is always in doubt--is the terrifying setting for countless works of the imagination. Films like Apocalypse Now, television shows like Lost, and of course stories like Heart of Darkness all pursue the essential question of why the unknown world terrifies adventurer and spectator alike. In Jungle Fever, Charlotte Rogers goes deep into five books that first defined the jungle as a violent and maddening place. The reader finds urban explorers venturing into the wilderness, encountering and living among the "native" inhabitants, and eventually losing their minds.

The canonical works of authors such as Joseph Conrad, Andre Malraux, Jose Eustasio Rivera, and others present jungles and wildernesses as fundamentally corrupting and dangerous. Rogers explores how the methods these authors use to communicate the physical and psychological maladies that afflict their characters evolved symbiotically with modern medicine. While the wilderness challenges Conrad's and Malraux's European travelers to question their civility and mental stability, Latin American authors such as Alejo Carpentier deftly turn pseudoscientific theories into their greatest asset, as their characters transform madness into an essential creative spark.

Ultimately, Jungle Fever suggests that the greatest horror of the jungle is the unknown regions of the character's own mind.

 

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Jungle Fever: Exploring Madness and Medicine in Twentieth-Century Tropical Narratives

User Review  - Rachel Owens - Book Verdict

Rogers (Spanish, George Mason Univ.) analyzes and compares five works—Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, André Malraux's The Way of the Kings, José Eustasio Rivera's The Vortex, Rómulo Gallegos's ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 Medical Discourse and Modernist Prose in Heart of Darkness
29
2 Pathological Philosophies of Decay in The Way of the Kings
63
Madness Medicine and the Lost Notebooks of Arturo Cova
91
Narrating Madness in Canaima
119
5 Surrealism Science and Sanity in The Lost Steps
143
Conclusion
171
Notes
185
Bibliography
205
Index
221
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About the author (2012)

: Charlotte Rogers is Assistant Professor of Spanish at George Mason University.

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