This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of the development of the novela de la selva — the Spanish-American Jungle Novel. It then sets out the book's purpose, which is to explore how colonial tropes of the tropics were contested in the novela de la selva. The book focuses on the four emblematic novels of the genre — W. H. Hudson's Green Mansions, José Eustasio Rivera's La vorágine, Rómulo Gallegos's Canaima and Alejo Carpentier's Los pasos perdidos. An overview of the subsequent chapter is also presented.
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