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Intimate FrontiersA Literary Geography of the Amazon$
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Felipe Martínez-Pinzón and Javier Uriarte

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941831

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941831.001.0001

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The Western ‘Baptism’ of Yurupary: Reception and Rewritings of an Amazonian Foundational Myth

The Western ‘Baptism’ of Yurupary: Reception and Rewritings of an Amazonian Foundational Myth

(p.208) The Western ‘Baptism’ of Yurupary: Reception and Rewritings of an Amazonian Foundational Myth
Intimate Frontiers

Rike Bolte

Liverpool University Press

The myth of the Yurupary [yërëparí] is the foundational story of a patriarchal Amazonian religious system, and was widely spread and highly diversified among the language families of the Tupí-Guaraní, Tukano and Arawak from the Vaupés River in the northeast Amazon. In the midst of both Missionary expansion in the region at the end of the 19th century and capitalist penetration, the Italian jurist, geographer and explorer Ermanno Stradelli published an account of the Yurupary entitled “Leggenda dell’ Jurupary” (1890). In this essay Bolte visibilizes the political, literary and cultural mediations between the myth —inaccessible in its “pure” form— and the reappropriation it suffered by missionaries and local and European travellers during the 19th century. In view of the highly debatable nature of a historical-literary event such as that of a non-Western story being put into writing by European hands, Bolte proposes that we should systematically accept that we have no way of reaching the Yurupary story in its original form, prior to its Westernization. We should also bear in mind that Stradelli’s version is a mere selection of a great variety of episodes from different oral stories, and even different cycles of Amazonian myths.

Keywords:   Leggenda dell’ Jurupary (1890), Ermanno Stradelli (1852-1926), Formation of National Literary Canons, Amazonian myths and legends, “Literarization” (translations and appropriations) of indigenous cultures, Yurupary

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