In April 1992 a 24-year old man by the name of Christopher Johnson McCandless walked into the Alaskan wilderness to seek a self-sustained life away and apart from the corruptions of civilization. He had previously donated his savings of $ 25,000 to Oxfam, given away most of his possessions, severed ties to all of his family members, and in a picaresque fashion had worked his way across the US for almost two years. McCandless came from a more than affluent family, had successfully graduated from college and was a promising young man with the prospect of enrolling in law school at Harvard. When his emaciated corpse was found in an abandoned bus in Alaska, four months after he had set out on his adventure, his story stirred tremendous interest across the United States. The reactions to his fate where mixed, however. While most Alaskans saw him as a greenhorn and irresponsible young man who had caused his family a lot of grief and who had ignored all sensible advice about surviving in the wild, others, however, regarded him as a seeker of true meaning and as a messianic figure. The latter view was especially supported by the culture industry, which stylized Christopher McCandless into a savior figure inspired by a myriad of American myths. This paper is going to concentrate on two accounts of McCandless’s fate: Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction text Into the Wild (1996) and Sean Penn’s feature film of the same title, released in 2007.1 Both media fundamentally draw on ideas of nature, nation, and manhood as developed by the American transcendentalists in the 19th-century, especially by Henry David Thoreau, in their representation of both McCandless’s fate and of American natural spaces.
|Ausgabe / Jahr:
|2 / 2010
Seiten 303 - 316
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