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8 - Seductive and Destructive: Argentina in Gabriele Reuter's Kolonistenvolk (1889)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2014

David Tingey
Affiliation:
University of Tulsa
Rob McFarland
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of German at Brigham Young University
Michelle Stott James
Affiliation:
Associate Professor of German at Brigham Young University
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Summary

Written just prior to her more well-known Aus guter Familie (From a Good Family, 1895), Gabriele Reuter's novel Kolonistenvolk (The Colonists, 1889) offers a complex representation of Argentina through direct description of the region's natural features and peoples, as well as indirectly through a close look at the successful and unsuccessful German immigrants. For the colonists, this New World is a place of excitement, adventure, opportunity, freedom, hard work, even a place of romance, but it is also a dangerous and wild realm of violence, grief, corruption, and superstition, an underworld inhabited by beautiful, faithless temptresses, swindling bureaucrats, and xenophobic rulers. In Kolonistenvolk, Reuter presents a vampiric Argentina that devours the weak and can be survived only by the fittest and the strongest-willed immigrants who hold true to their identity in the face of opposition. Following a brief look at Reuter's autobiography and her comments concerning the New World and her novel, this analysis will examine the portrayal of the protagonist Paul Röver as he struggles to reconcile his “Germanness” with his new homeland and thus to maintain his own identity in the face of parasitic and destructive influences.

In her autobiography Vom Kinde zum Menschen: Die Geschichte meiner Jugend (From a Child to a Human: The Story of My Youth, 1921), Reuter explains why she decided to make German colonists in Argentina the subject of her second novel and, most importantly she reveals events and attitudes that informed her imagination of the New World.

Type
Chapter
Information
Sophie Discovers Amerika
German-Speaking Women Write the New World
, pp. 102 - 110
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2014

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