, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 195-207

Art, Science, and the New World in Daniel Kehlmann’s Die Vermessung der Welt and César Aira’s Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero

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Abstract

This article interprets recent historical novels by Daniel Kehlmann and César Aira that represent Latin American space as intimately connected with art and fiction. Kehlmann’s Die Vermessung der Welt explores New World topographies to argue that scientific and artistic approaches to the understanding of the environment are similar, while Aira’s Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero represents Latin America as a creative territory that violently resists scientific European incursions. Both novels remove Latin American landscapes from their sociopolitical contexts and conflate them with the artificiality of fiction. This perception represents a perspective on Latin America from outside its borders: the fantasized landscape serves to exoticize the region.