Start Submission

Reading: How to Compose a Landscape: Reflections on Procedure in César Aira’s An Episode in the Life...

Download

A- A+
Alt. Display

Research Article

How to Compose a Landscape: Reflections on Procedure in César Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

Author:

Anne C McConnell

West Virginia State University, US
About Anne
Anne McConnell is a Professor in the English Department at West Virginia State University. She specializes in contemporary literature, literary theory, and ecocriticism from France, Latin America, and the United States. Her most recent book, Stepping Off the Edge, was recently published by Dalkey Archive Press. She currently teaches world literature, critical theory, and writing at West Virginia State University.
X close

Abstract

In César Aira’s short novel, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, the narrator describes the work and travels of German landscape painter, Johann Moritz Rugendas, in the Argentinian countryside. Rugendas, a landscape painter inspired by the work of naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt, commits himself to a strict procedure that attempts to document not only the variety of organisms in a given landscape, but also their relationship to one another. Rugendas and his fellow painter, Robert Krause, practice the Humboldtian procedure while reflecting upon and discussing matters related to artistic representation and composition. Those conversations also reflect the perspective of a contemporary Argentinian novelist, who also happens to obsess over the procedures and tools that define the work of art, and writing. While the novel begins as a biographical account of a specific trip Rugendas took to South America, it changes course near the middle when the painter is struck by lightning, twice, and is subsequently violently dragged across the pampas by his frightened horse. At this turning point, Aira’s novel, and Rugendas’s life, becomes increasing surreal, yet the painter never turns his back on the procedure. An Episode on the Life of a Landscape remains a meditation on artistic mediation, drawing attention to the eye and hand of the artist in the act of composition.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.26824/lalr.200
How to Cite: McConnell, A.C., 2021. How to Compose a Landscape: Reflections on Procedure in César Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter. Latin American Literary Review, 48(95). DOI: http://doi.org/10.26824/lalr.200
2
Views
2
Downloads
Published on 06 Apr 2021.
Peer Reviewed

Downloads

  • PDF (EN)

    comments powered by Disqus