A Thing About Machines: Eça de Queirós's Technological Twilight Zone

  • Ana Ilievska University of Chicago
Keywords: Artifacts, Noise, Voice, A cidade e as serras, Portugues novel


By reconstructing the acts and voices of technological artifacts in A cidade e as serras (1901), this paper outlines what I call Eça de Queirós’s technological “twilight zone,” where machines are granted literary citizenship, and human interlocutors are forced to reevaluate who and what counts as humanity and conversation. I argue that the unresponsiveness of technological artifacts to the human voice in A cidade e as serras reveals a process of destabilization of power hierarchies and vocal anthropocentrism. Eça neither demonizes nor glorifies machines; rather he elaborates ways in which productive coexistence and communication can remain a prime objective. In A cidade e as serras, Eça parses out anxieties about technology and modernity in subtle and balanced ways that can shed new light on enduring questions about humanmachine interactions in our era of technological dependence.


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