Early impressions of Dream Jungle, etc.

I’ve only read a very small portion of the novel at this point (26 pages), but I feel its safe to bring up some early points of interest. Ideas at this point may be inaccurate in terms of the overall narrative. Although I find the writing style to be somewhat dry, the idea of a post-colonial postmodernist novel seems very interesting and potentially promising. I think it’s safe to position this novel in the post-colonial pantheon. The initial chapter of the novel is, after all, an excerpt from an account of Magellan’s expedition to the Philippines, and this discovery was the event that catalyzed Spanish colonization of the islands. The fact that the author chooses to foreground the novel with this account seems very telling. The idea of the colonial, non-native intruder is reinforced by the initial portrayal of wealthy Spaniard Zamora. His native servant girl, Celia, is described as “belong[ing] to him,” in practically every sense of the word (9). He is egotistical, callous, acutely aware of his own power.

This got me to thinking about Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, and the way the journeys of Marlowe and Willard upriver affect them. In both, the increasingly disjointed, unfamiliar, and hallucinatory experiences of the river force them into uncomfortable realizations about themselves. Both come to relate to the madman at the end of the river, realizing his pragmatism is significantly more authentic then the ongoing BS of bureaucracy espoused by the colonial(?) forces. And I think also, they realize that any preconceived notions they have about the way things are supposed to be are essentially inapplicable in the place they find themselves in. And they are fundamentally changed by the confrontation at the end of the river; this is more explicitly covered in Heart of Darkness but seems equally obvious in Apocalypse Now.

I wonder if Zamora will experience a similar crisis of self and fundamental realization.


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One thought on “Early impressions of Dream Jungle, etc.”


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    Professor Sample says:

    I don’t want to jump the gun, since we’ll be talking more directly about Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now later, but I do want to say you’re onto something. Dream Jungle is an explicit (and sometimes implicit) rewriting of many “traditional” history narratives — the discovery narrative, the conquest narrative, and even the postcolonial resistance narrative. Hagedorn’s “use and abuse” of history is what makes me count the novel as an example of historiographic metafiction (the term Linda Hutcheon coins in her article).

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