Interspecies Literature: Clarice Lispector’s Zoophytographia

 

In this article I draw on the work of Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro to argue that literature can function in a way similar to Amerindian shamanism by attempting to represent the worldview of non-humans, to regard them as subjects and to espouse their perspective. I designate this kind of writing zoophytographia, or interspecies literature. I then turn to the texts of Clarice Lispector, which offer a utopian vision of a non-hierarchical world, where plants, animals and human beings share their living space. On my reading, Lispector suggests two main modes of relating to non-humans: metamorphosis and encounter. The face-to-face encounter with plants and animals in short stories like “The Imitation of the Rose” (A Imitação da Rosa”) and “The Buffalo” (“O Búfalo”), or in the novel The Passion According to G.H. (A Paixão Segundo G.H.), results in a profound transformation of anthropocentric categories such as language or reason, which are now extended to our non-human others.

 

 

Ecological Amazons: A Communitarian Utopia in the Jungle

 

This article discusses the portrayal of the mythical Amazon warriors that lent their name to the Amazon river basin in Brazilian literature. In the past, the legend of a fearsome all-women tribe went hand in hand with a dystopian vision of the territory as a “green hell,” according to which unsuspecting travelers and colonizers often fell prey to dangers lurking in the shadows of a threatening natural environment. I contend that, with the development of the Amazon region in the wake of the rubber boom (end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) and, especially, with the rise of environmental concerns, the Amazons become part of an idealized image of the rainforest. I analyze three modes of utopian representation of the Amazons: Gastão Cruls depiction of an a well-organized, self-sufficient lost tribe of women in the novel The Mysterious Amazon (1925); Abguar Bastos’s vision of the promised land of the Amazons, free from the social ills of his time, in The Amazon Nobody Knows About (1929); and the Modernist fantasy of a renewed matriarchy as a means to overcome the pitfalls of capitalist patriarchal rule.