Visions of Nature: Colombian Literature and the Environment from the Colonial Period to the Nineteenth Century

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For the writers who set about describing the natural environment of what is now Colombia (part of the colonial Nuevo Reino de Granada [New Kingdom of Granada] and the early-national Nueva Granada [New Granada]), the region – with its stunning multiplicity of landscapes, its fauna and flora, and the humanity it sustained – embodies the dense layers of meaning latent in the philosopher's aphorism. At times nature hides as an object to be revealed; at times nature conceals the complexity of the world itself. Their descriptions reveal a series of concerns shifting modes of reasoning used to put forward particular visions of the region. In the late sixteenth century, literary works of the Nuevo Reino de Granada reveal changing views of the cosmos and preoccupations about the relationship between man and world through their descriptions of nature and space. Illuminated by intellectual projects that reconceived how to think about nature, these views furnish us a key with which to unlock the shaping power these representations exercised on the debates over the nature of the human, the image of the Earth as object, and the critique of intervention. Later the deployment of a new, scientific discourse and the delineation of new territorial entities in the eighteenth century, aligned with Spain's desire of commercial expansion, lay the groundwork for a novel envisioning of New Granada that would ultimately influence the rhetorical discourse of independence. The subsequent engagement of the scientific language of the nineteenth century shaped Colombia's foundational literature by forging diverging natural images of national identity.


Cambridge University Press



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Cambridge University Press

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