Manuscript of “The Vortex”


La vorágine (The vortex) is an epic novel by the poet and lawyer José Eustasio Rivera, first published in Bogotá in 1924 and set in the jungles of Colombia during the rubber boom dating from about 1880 to World War I. Rivera served as the legal secretary to a commission established to determine the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Presented here is a part of the manuscript of the novel, consisting of a notebook that Rivera kept during his travels to the interior for the commission. "This notebook,” he later explained, “traveled with me up the Orinoco, Atabapo, Guaviare, Inírida, Guania, Casiquiare, Black, Amazon, and Magdalena rivers, when I was a lawyer for the Colombian Commission of the Frontier with Venezuela, and its pages were written on the beaches, in forests … in the sterns of the canoes, on the stones that served me as pillows, on the boxes and rolls of wire, among pests and heat. I finished the novel in Neiva on April 21, 1924." Now preserved in the National Library of Colombia, the manuscript sheds light on the origins of the novel and its main characters, Arturo Cova and his lover Alicia. Considered a seminal work of Latin American modernism and an exemplar of the “jungle novel,” comparable to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, La vorágine is one of the most important novels in Colombian literature.

Last updated: March 19, 2013