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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Punk Journalism : searching for authenticity and identity in Robert Juan-Cantavella’s ‘El Dorado’ Miller, Austin


In his 2008 work El Dorado, author Robert Juan-Cantavella explores what it means to be ‘Spanish’ through what he claims to be a new genre called Punk Journalism. The protagonist (Juan-Cantavella's alter ego) claims that Punk Journalism is the bastard son of American author Hunter S. Thompson’s Gonzo Journalism. Several articles have been written about this work, but few have done so with academic rigor—most notably are Maria Egea’s De Las Vegas a Marina D’or. O como llegar desde el New Journalism norteamericano de Hunter S. Thompson hasta la nueva narrativa española de Robert Juan-Cantavella (2011) and Tanteos, calas y pesquisas en el dossier genético digital de ‘El Dorado’ de Robert Juan-Cantavella (2014) by Benédicte Vauthier. While these works tackle the events surrounding its publication—neither of them take a holistic study focused on the themes of authenticity and identity (pertaining to both the narrative, and the publication itself). The first part of this study focuses on the authenticity of the novel itself and serves to validate or discredit critic Maria Egea’s claim that Escargot’s literary creation, Punk Journalism, deserves to be considered “algo nuevo” (Egea 122). I accomplish this through comparative analysis, juxtaposing El Dorado with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971) while also addressing Maria Egea’s claims. The second part of this investigation reveals that identity is intrinsically linked to authority and power and that Escargot’s inability to pinpoint the identity of his nation is due more to a symptom of language than Spain itself. This study also finds that although Juan-Cantavella's work is a derivative of El Dorado, due to its scope, subjects, and style—Escargot does indeed achieve the creation of ‘something new.’ This newness comes to fruition through Escargot’s use of hyper self-awareness, extreme narrative experiments like switching from first person to third person omniscient at will, increased political commentary, and a more obvious desire to ‘trick’ the reader.

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