Abstract

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.

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