Gazing upon a fictional ghost town: Juan Rulfo’s Comala and the convergence of dark tourism and literary tourism.




Debordian, Imagination, Rulfo, Thanatology , Tourism


Overlooking the town of San Gabriel in Mexico stands a monument which attracts aficionados of Juan Rulfo’s novel Pedro Paramo. San Gabriel inspired the creation of the fictional Comala, a deserted town haunted by past residents. The main objective of the paper was to explore, from the conceptual perspective of lieux de imagination (Reijnders, 2011) whether some aficionados imagine that San Gabriel is Comala. Furthermore, considering the dark characteristics of Comala, the possibility that specific visitors undergo thanatopsis was also considered. A qualitative approach to the research was deemed the appropriate methodology to answer the research questions and accomplish the overall aim, hence twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted over the course of two days at the monument. The findings demonstrated that all of the participants were attracted to San Gabriel (and the monument) because it was the childhood home of Rulfo and the inspiration for Comala, while the vast majority imagined that San Gabriel transformed into Comala. Meanwhile, a smaller but significant proportion of visitors underwent a thanatological experience. It was suggested that this experience was an example of Debordian dark tourism, hence signifying that the monument is a place in which literary tourism and dark tourism occasionally converge.


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How to Cite

Speakman, M. ., & Diaz Garay, A. (2022). Gazing upon a fictional ghost town: Juan Rulfo’s Comala and the convergence of dark tourism and literary tourism . Tourism and Heritage Journal, 4, 18–36.