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Hispanic Ecocriticism

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Edited By José Manuel Marrero Henríquez

Hispanic Ecocriticism finds a rich soil in the main topics of environmental concern in the literature of Latin America and Spain, not only as a source for renewing critical analysis and hermeneutics, but also for the benefit of global environmental awareness. In a renewed exchange of transatlantic relationships, Hispanic Ecocriticism intermingles Latin American ecocritical issues of interest — the oil industry; contamination of forests and rivers; urban ecologies; African, Andean, and Amazonian biocultural ecosystems — with those of interest in Spain — animal rights and the ecological footprints of human activity in contemporary narratives of eco-science fiction, in dystopias, and in literature inspired by natural or rural landscapes that conceal ways of life and cultures in peril of extinction.

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José Manuel Marrero Henríquez: Introduction: On Hispanic Ecocriticism

Introduction: On Hispanic Ecocriticism

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José Manuel Marrero Henríquez

In his text “The Analytic Language of John Wilkins”, Jorge Luis Borges highlights how the great virtues of natural languages are to be found in their defects. Within the story’s title, the reference to English natural philosopher and writer John Wilkins recalls the seventeenth century innovator’s attempt to remedy linguistic defects by creating a perfect language, one that would provide a sign for everything in the world, from the most abstract to the most miniscule. Not allowing for any ambiguity, Wilkin’s proposed language consisted only of precise words inserted in a grammar as accurate as the metric system in which words behave like numbers with exact meaning and self-containing definitions; however, words that act like numbers and perfect signs for perfect meanings ultimately result in nonsense. This ideal but impossible language suits one of Borges’s characters, Funes, the boy who, after an accident, develops a boundless memory capable of having a term for every occurrence: the name for the fly that is here and a different name for the same fly over there, or an expression for the leaf in the air and another for same one once back on the earth. Perfect as it appears to be, Wilkins’s language needs the common approval of his departing classification of the world, and only a memory as huge and worthless as Funes’s is able to learn it. Borges uses Wilkins’s project to praise the limitations of human beings and the imperfections of natural languages,...

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