The vision of the landscape in Juan Rulfo: The aesthetic worldview in literature and photography

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Jinsong Wang


The present work investigates the Weltanschauung (the aesthetic worldview) about the landscape in the works of Mexican writer and photographer Juan Rulfo. By appealing to modern and postmodern art and aesthetic theory (by Malcolm Andrews and Roland Barthes, among others), comparative theory of literature and visual art (by W.J.T. Mitchell and René Wellek, among others), and literary and artistic research on landscape (by Octavio Paz and Adam Ansels, among others), we propose that the Rulfian landscape is not only “seen”, but also “perceived” and “articulated” in various different aesthetic dimensions. In light of this, with the purpose to better reflect this Rulfian “vision”, we appeal to the term “worldview”, an adaptation of the German word Weltanschauung. The present work starts by a brief revision of Rulfo’s view of the landscape and his earlier aesthetic experience, with the purpose to find out how the landscape becomes his “invented memory” in his literary works and the punctum (the incidental but personally poignant detail) in his photography. After that, we provide an interpretation of the Rulfian landscape worldview in both historical and socio-cultural domains that are tightly connected to his literary and photographic production: for example, the “eroded” rural landscape, the “euphe­mistic” view of the urban and rural landscape, and the revolutionary and post-revolutionary discourse in his “ideological” landscape in the Mexican (and more generally, Latin-American) context. The general finding of the present work is that Rulfo's landscape Weltanschauung is the product of various different and potentially conflicting aesthetical mechanisms and living environments at different stages or levels, in which the complex system of “perceptual, intellectual and spiritual” epistemology is found to play an important role.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Individual Sessions: Words and Images Crossing Literary and Critical Borders