Monsters and Agritoxins: The Environmental Gothic in Samanta Schweblin's Distancia de rescate
Contribution to Book
This chapter explores Schweblin's engagement with Gothic fiction in Distancia de rescate to resolve the difficulties of representing agrochemical pollution and, at the same time, to criticize the tendency to privilege the visible and the immediate, which makes the silent and hidden damage of slow violence easier to ignore. The catastrophic consequences of the abuse of pesticides become obvious and urgent in Distancia de rescate, thanks to Gothic fiction's ability to give form to invisible threats (Haber 2). In its origins in the eighteenth century,6 Gothic literature deployed horror, the supernatural, the irrational, and especially the ineffable to manifest a lack of confidence in the pretensions of the Enlightenment's ability to explain the world through reason and logic. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Gothic aesthetic gave voice to societal fears about industrial and technological changes (Del Principe 2). As such, its application in contemporary literature to anxieties around environmental problems can be seen as a logical evolution. As Kelly Hurley notes, the Gothic is "a cyclical genre that reemerges in times of cultural stress in order to negotiate anxieties for its readership by working through them in displaced (sometimes supernaturalized) form" (194). This is demonstrated by its growing use in contemporary narratives that deal with environmental destruction and climate change.
Ilka Kressner, Ana Marìa Mutis, & Elizabeth M. Pettinaroli
Mutis, A. M. (2019). Monsters and agritoxins: The environmental gothic in Samanta Schweblin's Distancia de rescate. In I. Kressner, A. M. Mutis, & E. M. Pettinaroli (Eds.), Ecofictions, ecorealities, and slow violence in Latin America and the Latinx world (pp. 39-54). Routledge.
Ecofictions, Ecorealities, and Slow Violence in Latin America and the Latinx World