Travelling both ways: Cultural imaginations crossing frontiers in Roberto Bolaños 2666

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Rebecca Seewald


The US-American/Mexican frontier is a space where transnational myths and dreams collide - those of the ‘Wild, Wild West’ with its expansionist endeavour of the early colonial years and of the ‘American Virgin Land’ with the imaginary ‘Gate to a better Life’, which the frontera represents for mainly Hispanic immigrants. Still, it is also a place that is usually not centrally perceived but negotiated as a borderland, as Heike Paul claims in her monography The Myths that made America, where she adds: “The American West is constructed as a site of individual and collective quests for land and dominance”[1] and has become “a preeminent symbol of exceptionalist ‘Americanness’ around the world.”[2]

While US-American dreams are promised to become reality, “[h]atred, anger and exploitation are [also] prominent features of this landscape”,[3] nowadays dominated by narratives of violence and drug smuggling. Roberto Bolaño, who sets the centre of his global novel 2666 in this supposed edge of civilization, creates “a literary space with a particular suggestion of profound connections between relatively isolated events in Mexico and the best and worst of European history.”[4]

The novel challenges the concepts of ‘Western’ hegemony and Latin American liminality, puts the notion of “World literature” up for discussion, and shall be examined as a laboratory for cultural exchange.


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial and Neocolonial Experiences