18 Nov




The proverbial silence of a tree falling in a forest is heard within the realm of eco-criticism. Nature, incontrovertibly,  is the genisis of all human experience and the epitomy of awareness as everything else is manufactured and therfore construct. Whether its culture or politics none would exist if it weren’t for mother nature. Consider the juxtaposition of the third world and its crushing poverty as a natural phenomenon, when in reality material status and economic wealth aren’t based on nature but on man. Therefore, nature must be distinguished separately from culture and accepted as an omnipotent entity that affects all life wherever it’s to be found; the underlying importance of our world, our environment, and its place within literary criticism.

Nature is often regarded as either that which is beyond parity and god given or the cause of disaster and human demise. It’s the idea of nature in a cultural or political representation that this form of criticism attempts to analyze; the relationship between man and nature and its discovery or lack thereof within the pages of literature. With the recent rise of environmental awareness and the politics that focus on anthropocentric causation, eco-criticism is rising steadily in popularity. The postmodern perception that a larger focus be placed on the natural world and our place in it as stewards is worthy, but one mustn’t forget that eco-criticism can also be used for political leverage in exactly the same way that literature has always upheld the propaganda de jour.

One only has to regard the literature and films that were promoted during World War II and compare them with the genre of novels that are gaining contemporary popularity. Book stores are filled with tales of environmental survival in a world that’s dying, or of humans attempting to survive in a wilderness of an apocalyptic zombie universe. The popularity of the Hunger Games novels and the government’s machinations regarding Agenda 21 could almost be considered predictive programming.

That symbiosis exists between eco-criticism and other forms of literary critique such as post-colonialism and even multiculturalism is obvious, and one can very easily see how they might be combined. The rape and plunder of lands by foreign powers for natural resources, the dispersal of populations, the irrevocable damage caused by industry and warfare can all be reconciled within eco- criticism. One mustn’t think that it’s just about the environment or the ponderings of Victorian poets, but rather nature’s effect on us and us on it, and how that’s represented in the written word. When Plato wrote about Atlantis I’m sure that it wasn’t eco-criticism that he had on his mind, but in our modern age of alleged rising sea levels it could be construed that the man was a visionary!


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