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Title: Latin American Horror
Author(s): Casanova-Vizcaíno, Sandra
Ordiz, Ines
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Editor(s): Bloom, Clive
Citation: Casanova-Vizcaíno S & Ordiz I (2020) Latin American Horror. In: Bloom C (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Gothic. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 31-47.
Keywords: Contemporary Latin American Gothic, horror, vampires, zombies, cannibals
Issue Date: 2020
Date Deposited: 20-Aug-2021
Abstract: First paragraph: In his introduction to the influential Antologia de la literatura fantastica/The Book of Fantasy, Adolfo Bioy Casares defines The Castle of Otranto as representative of a tedious genre of castles, spider webs, storms, and bad taste. This judgement summarise the canonical view of the Gothic in Latin American criticism during the larger part of the twentieth century, a rejection that, in many cases, had more to do with terminology than with a dismissal of gothic forms. The Antologia includes short stories featuring vampires, ghosts, and old castles; although associated with the Gothic in European countries and in the United States, these were branded motifs of fantastic literature in Latin America. Moreover, the Gothic has been considered by some to be a sort of colonial imposition in Latin America, a foreign mode of representation that does not reflect regional identities. Other forms of non-mimetic representation have also been traditionally rejected in favour of a focus on magical realism and/or lo real maravilloso, defined by Alejo Carpentier as the literary representation of Latin American and Caribbean beliefs, identities, and relationships with reality. Even though some critics have put forward gothic readings of magical realist texts, the two modes' relationships with the uncanny or supernatural event are diametrically opposed: whereas magical realism accepts it as a part of reality (therefore defining Latin American understanding of the world as a fusion of realism and fantasy), the Gothic's representation of said event is often connected to fear. However, more contemporary literary critics and writers - such as Emil Volek, Lois Parkinson Zamora, and Wendy B Faris among others - have pointed to the artificiality of the connection between magical realism and Latin American identity. Some have claimed the need to carry out more inclusive analyses of Latin American literature that go beyond artificial conceptions of nation and begin considering the multi-territorialised realities of literary products in the era of globalisation. But even in this moment of increasing interest in redefining local literatures, it is still more common to use terms such as terror and horror to describe the type of literary imaginations that criticism written in English would call Gothic. It is not our intention here to make a value judgement on the use of one term of the other. Nonetheless, we believe that an understanding of the Gothic as a mode that is possible (and definitely present) in Latin American fictions does not attempt to reject or obscure other readings of regional fiction; but rather aspires to advance and enrich criticism by considering new tools to examine existing cultural products.
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