Phytofables: Tales of the Amazon

  • Patrícia Vieira Georgetown University
Keywords: Amazonia, ecocriticism, plant studies, rubber-boom literature, phytographia


The Amazon has been the repository of myriad stories created as a means to make sense of the proliferation of life in the forest. In this article, I trace some of the narratives—which I call phytofables—that explorers, scientists, activists and governments have superimposed upon the region, from the green hell/earthly Paradise dichotomy to more recent discourses of economic progress and protectionism. In the final section of the article, I turn to literary texts that have attempted to listen to and interpret the voice of the forest, in particular Alberto Rangel’s Inferno Verde and José Maria Ferreira de Castro’s A Selva.

Author Biography

Patrícia Vieira, Georgetown University

Patrícia Vieira is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature, and Film and Media Studies at Georgetown University and Associate Researcher at the Center for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra. She is the author of Seeing Politics Otherwise: Vision in Latin American and Iberian Fiction and Portuguese Film 1930-1960. She is also co-editor of Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian ThoughtFound Images: Documentary, Politics and Social Change in PortugalThe Green Thread: Dialogues with the Vegetal World; and The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature.