Tierra del Fuego

Overview

Tierra del Fuego is more than a suspenseful seafaring tale in the tradition of Captain Hornblower; it is also a chilling psychological and cultural tale, reminiscent of Heart of Darkness or Lord of the Flies, that probes deeply into human nature. Based on the true story of the Yámana Indian, Jemmy Button (parts of which are recorded in Chapter 10 of Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle), the novel explores Captain Robert Fitzroy's abduction of Jemmy Button and his attempt to "civilize" him in England and ...
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Overview

Tierra del Fuego is more than a suspenseful seafaring tale in the tradition of Captain Hornblower; it is also a chilling psychological and cultural tale, reminiscent of Heart of Darkness or Lord of the Flies, that probes deeply into human nature. Based on the true story of the Yámana Indian, Jemmy Button (parts of which are recorded in Chapter 10 of Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle), the novel explores Captain Robert Fitzroy's abduction of Jemmy Button and his attempt to "civilize" him in England and return him to his country as a bearer of "enlightened society." His experiment leads to tragic consequences. The novel deals with European arrogance and exploitation, but avoids falling into the cliché of "the Noble Savage." Jemmy (the "Other") remains strange and the attempt to co-opt him fails.

Tierra del Fuego has already won two major awards for the Spanish edition: The Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Award for the best work of fiction written by a woman and The Best Book of the Year Award at the Buenos Aires Book Fair.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Based on the relatively little-known but true story of Jemmy Button, this thinly veiled historical novel is narrated by the fictional mariner John William Guevara in response to a request from the British Admiralty for an objective assessment of the events. Captain Fitzroy kidnaps Button, a Yamana Indian (who appeared in Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle and The Descent of Man), from his Fuegan homeland and ships him off to England in an experiment to civilize him. Several years later, after having returned and resorted to his old ways in South America, Button is accused of and stands trial for instigating a massacre of English missionaries on the Falkland Islands. Developing the theme of the noble savage, Iparraguirre (1999 winner of the Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz award) rekindles the Argentine theme of civilization vs. rusticity that extends all the way back to Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. The masterly weaving of double lives ends up as much an unwrapping of the narrator's own self-discovery as a telling of Button's life. Recommended for most libraries.--Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The powerful story of Jemmy Button—the Yamana Indian brought in 1829 to England (to be"civilized") by explorer Robert Fitzroy (previously related both in fiction and in Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle)—is retold with impressive narrative sweep and empathy in this multiple prizewinner from a well-known Argentinean dissident writer. Iparraguirre ingeniously communicates the tale through the journals of biracial (Argentine-English) observer and man-without-a-country John William Guevara, a figure finally as complex and elusive as the"primitive" Jemmy himself. A brilliant parable of colonialism rampant, and one of the best Latin American novels of recent years.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781880684726
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 285
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

An outspoken human rights advocate, Sylvia Iparraguirre has already gained considerable fame in Argentina where she was involved in several magazine projects criticizing the military dictatorship in Argentina. Tierra del Fuego is her second novel. She has also published two collections of short stories, one of which, In the Winter of the Cities, won the Municipal Prize for Literature.

Hardie St. Martin currently lives in Barcelona. In his long and distinguished career as an editor and translator, he has translated Juan Gelman, Pablo Neruda, Miguel Hernández, Blas de Otero, and others. He is the editor of Small Hours of the Night by Roque Dalton (Curbstone, 1996).

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