“The ugliness of my surroundings”: Tip Marugg’s Ecogothic Poetics of Isolation
Keywords:Ecogothic, Ecocriticism, postcolonialism, Dutch Caribbean literature
In this paper I argue that Curaçaoan author Tip Marugg’s use of ecogothic articulates a postcolonial sense of insular alienation for his white protagonists in Weekend Pilgrimage (1957) and The Roar of Morning (1988). His depiction of the Dutch Caribbean environment as decadent and hostile facilitates an atmosphere in which his characters become untethered from the structures that empowered them. Marugg’s narrative techniques regarding the gothic rely on postcolonial critiques of the island of Curaçao’s racial hierarchy, the oil industry as a product of sustained colonization for the sake of globalization, and tourism as a product of neocolonialism. The environment’s opposition abounds through images of haunting winds, suicidal birds, sea monsters, and widespread destruction that serve to criticise societal changes that isolate the protagonists. Because I suggest that Marugg’s ecocriticism is implicated within a larger question of belonging as it pertains to race and class in Curaçao, I will conclude by considering how his contemporary Frank Martinus Arion employs nature in Double Play (1998). That is to say, whereas Marugg’s white protagonists are often the target of the island’s ecosystem, Arion’s interaction with the natural environment espouses a sentiment of belonging for his Afro-Curaçaoan protagonist that ultimately positions Afro-Curaçaoans as stewards of the island’s future.
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