Myths and Realities
This book makes a significant contribution to the study of the historical circumstances around the exploration and colonisation of Patagonia, as well as the subsequent cultural, political and economic outcomes.
Fernanda Peñaloza - Introduction: Myths and Realities: Mapping Scientific, Religious, Aesthetic and Patriotic Quests in Patagonia 1
Fernanda Peñaloza Introduction: Myths and Realities: Mapping Scientific, Religious, Aesthetic and Patriotic Quests in Patagonia1 Enacting old myths of a timeless and dehumanised landscape, Bruce Chat- win and Paul Theroux, who unsurprisingly defined themselves as “literary travellers” (1), speculated about the connections between Patagonia and a remarkable group of canonical writers.2 Through the pages of Patagonia Revisited we are invited to trace the influence of “Patagonian” tales of brave seas, and monstrous creatures in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Conan Doyle’s Lost World, among others. But the intertextual quest does not end there. Both 1 Sections of this introduction as well as some of the ideas forming part of my paper on Thomas Bridges were included in my PhD thesis (Peñaloza, 2004) and have subsequently undergone substantial revision. 2 For the circumstances of Chatwin’s trip to Patagonia see Nicholas Shakespeare, 287– 303. Shakespeare’s account suggests that Chatwin’s knowledge of the Spanish language was very limited (289). This might explain the portrayal of Patagonia as a land of foreigners and exiles. From In Patagonia it is possible to infer that Chatwin conducted interviews mainly with people who spoke English. But also, when Chatwin writes about people who could well be either Patagonians by birth, Chileans or Argentines from other regions of those countries, he does not seem to hold conversations with them and sometimes uses terms like “Latins” or “Indian half-breeds” to refer to the locals. In relation to the indigenous peoples, he...
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