Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2020


Dominant modes for comparing modernist literatures do so by coordinating individual texts against a larger narrative of modernity conceived as economic or political globalization. This article proposes an alternative premise for comparison. Instead of focusing on development, it considers the ways in which different national modernisms registered a changing modernity in terms of nature and natural history. This switch is demanded by two texts that bear a number of thematic and conceptual similarities and were published months apart in 1928: Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma and Virginia Woolf ’s Orlando. Both works rethink Darwinism’s import for national representation by adapting the genre of the national romance or prose epic. They come to offer a sense of nations as living or organic in queer and unexpected ways. Tracing this process in relation also to the context of rising fascism, the article sheds light on modernist views of nature and their heuristic value as a basis for comparison.


This work was originally published in Comparative Literature Studies, available at doi: 10.5325/complitstudies.57.1.0041.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.