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“Postmodern Ecology in Don DeLillo’s Fiction” offers an ecocritical reading of DeLillo’s fiction through the lens of pastoralism, nature studies and apocalypse. Drawing from earlier discussion of ecology in DeLillo’s novel as well as from discussions of ecocrtiticism and place-based studies, this chapter focuses on several of DeLillo’s seminal works, White Noise, Underworld and Zero-K, along with his early short story “Creation” to demonstrate the presentation and evolution of environmental themes and messages throughout his oeuvre. By first looking at DeLillo’s inclusion and inversion of the tradition of pastoral in fiction and then moving towards a consideration of the trope of apocalypse, the chapter aims to prove how DeLillo makes an argument for place-based consciousness and environmental awareness and responsibility throughout his fiction.
British nature writing is a conflict-ridden mode that speaks to contradictions in the modern condition, and a crisis-ridden mode that addresses the modern crises of the environment, of representation and of the alienated self. It returns repeatedly to problems of mimesis and the non-transparency of language, and to the slippages between ecological facts and the cultural imagination. ‘Nature writing’ is a problematic category, and classifications of earlier literature as such must be qualified, recognising the historical overlapping of environmental literature with natural history and other genres. Although British nature writing grew in dialogue with its American equivalent, it has always been less concerned than the latter with the wilderness, addressing more cultivated environments in which wildlife intermingles with human social and economic activity. The genre has long sought spiritual renewal and significance in wildlife and engaged in conservation movements, although its environmentalist ethics have not been consistent. British nature writing has also been deeply shaped by the pastoral and georgic traditions, causing it to waver between the foci of leisurely contemplation and laborious activity.
This chapter argues for the rebirth of pastoral in the twenty-first century: as a genre responsive to climate change, mindful of the extinction of many species, and bearing the unique insights of indigenous peoples, with their memory of past catastrophes and their vision for a sustainable future. Woven into this argument are three classic American authors -- Washington Irving, Henry David Thoreau, and Herman Melville – each preoccupied with the subjection of Native peoples, but imagining very different fates for them. In Irving, the ruthless ascendency of colonial settlers makes Native demise a foregone conclusion. Moby-Dick, on the other hand, tells a more conflicting story. In spite of the casual reference to the “extinction” of the Pequots, the persistence of Native characters throughout the novel suggests that they might be here to stay. It is Tashtego’s “red arm and hammer” that we see at the book’s climactic end. Thoreau also equivocates, at one point showing the Abenaki as more firmly ensconced in their habitat than he himself can ever be. In this way, he looks forward to the pastoral affirmation of indigenous survival in the philosophy of Kyle Powys Whyte, and the climate activism of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
This article takes its cue from the claim, made both in 1831 and in our own time, that Bellini's La sonnambula is a pastoral opera. Frustratingly difficult to define, the term ‘pastoral’ is at once both musical and literary, able to attach itself to everything from madrigal to oratorio to symphony across four hundred years. This article explores the various meanings of pastoral specific to the early nineteenth century and argues that its currency in music analysis today – as a topic, as a mode – is of little use when attention falls on the music of Italian opera. It concludes with an extended analysis of Bellini's handling of cadences in both La sonnambula and his other operas, insisting that it is here, in Italian composers’ repeated affirmation of the conventions of tonality, that the pleasures promised by the pastoral can be enjoyed today as much as they were two hundred years ago.
The stage and sets for Euridice were designed by the Florentine artist Lodovico Cardi, called “Il Cigoli.” His invoice survives, as do an inventory of their elements made when they were disassembled and put into storage, and a list of materials provided by the mattress maker, Francesco Ricoveri. These documents are remarkably precise, even with measurements, and they would permit an accurate reconstruction of the staging of the opera in the room in the Palazzo Pitti originally intended for it, the current Sala delle Nicchie (although it was eventually done in a different space later known as the Sala delle Commedie). Cigoli’s contribution renders problematic conventional views of any shift from “Renaissance” to “Baroque” scenography. The three main issues concern the design of the proscenium, how to render a proper perspectival view, and the most effective way to make set changes (Euridice moves from a pastoral scene to an Underworld one and back), whether by way of rotating “periaktoi,” sliding flats, or canvases pulled up and down. Our digital reconstructions make clear how things worked for the opera from the point of view of the stage itself, and as to what the audience saw.
To set the context for the chapters to come, this introduction focuses on two items. First, it discusses the arc from postwar urban crisis and predictions of the posturban future that ran through the 1990s to the city’s apparent resurgence and the cultural and political backlash that are the volume’s occasion. It then turns to the antiurban theme that persisted in American literary history and American Studies through much of the twentieth century to remind us that disdain for the city, as site and symbol of modernity, has a history across the political spectrum.
This chapter argues that Edmund Spenser is at his most deeply political when he invites his readers to immerse themselves in the lush flowerbeds of his poetry. Immersive reading of the lavish and apparently “pointless” descriptions and inventories of flowers in The Shepheardes Calendar, Virgils Gnat, Muiopotmos, and the Garden of Adonis in The Faerie Queene reveal Spenser at his most resistant to submitting the poetic word to the ideological controls associated with the Crown and the court. Spenser plants his flowerbeds in the morally positive terrain of the liberty of speech and poetic license.
This chapter approaches Carlos Bulosan’s oeuvre, and specifically America Is in the Heart, through the framework of postcolonial ecocriticism. It provides an overview of Bulosan’s life, works, and critical reception. Additionally, the chapter presents the history of US empire as a crucial context shaping Bulosan’s writing. It argues that Bulosan’s environmental imaginary is central to his political critique and identifies the postcolonial pastoral, described by Rob Nixon as a form of “environmental double-consciousness,” as central to Bulosan’s depiction of the Philippines in America Is in the Heart. This environmental double-consciousness emerges in America Is in the Heart not only in depictions of the ongoing consequences of dispossession and colonialism in the Philippines, but also in representations of US landscapes as themselves haunted by the USA’s colonial investment in the Philippines.
In discussion over the dating of the Bucolics of Calpurnius Siculus, an important role has always been played by attempts to identify the character of Meliboeus, who is to be read as a bucolic allegory of the poet's patron. By providing a new interpretation of the description of Meliboeus’ literary production, I argue that he must be the agricultural writer Columella. A consideration of other aspects of Meliboeus confirms this identification, as does the analysis of a number of significant allusions to De cultu hortorum, the poem that makes up the tenth book of Columella's De re rustica. I then establish the date of Columella and discuss the consequences for dating Calpurnius, placing some parts of his book later in the reign of Nero than has been customary.
This chapter reads the formal evolution of Heaney’s poetry as a partial return to the kind of poet he was in his early career. Devoting most attention to his final two collections, District and Circle and Human Chain, it traces the evolution of his forms out of the narrow stanzas of the bog poems through the 'poetics of airy listening' of his middle career. Discussing the figure of the blacksmith and the prominence of metal objects in Human Chain – as well the emphasis placed by the poet on the pastoral and the etymological – the chapter contends that in returning to the 'weight' of his early style (concentrated, dense), Heaney seeks a style which is universal and permanent. The use of refrains and short lines reminiscent of traditional song are highlighted as being part of this quest to be a 'poet for all times'.
This chapter re-examines the idea that the development of the novel was hampered by politics during the French Revolution and that literary production was mediocre and ill-suited to the new social order. It studies the shift in the literary scene after the storming of the Bastille and the role of writers in regenerating the nation before considering the propagandistic works of republican writers during the radical phase of the Revolution. The death of the radical leader Robespierre in 1794 resulted in a clear shift in literary activity and prompted a move towards setting novels during the early 1790s which denounce the excesses of Robespierre and his supporters. The chapter places particular emphasis on the under-researched Directory period (1795-99) which is marked by a vogue for the Gothic and for fiction by and about émigrés.
Tenderness is not a notion commonly associated with the Romans, whose mythical origin was attributed to brutal rape. Yet, as Hérica Valladares argues in this ground-breaking study, in the second half of the first century BCE Roman poets, artists, and their audience became increasingly interested in describing, depicting, and visualizing the more sentimental aspects of amatory experience. During this period, we see two important and simultaneous developments: Latin love elegy crystallizes as a poetic genre, while a new style in Roman wall painting emerges. Valladares' book is the first to correlate these two phenomena properly, showing that they are deeply intertwined. Rather than postulating a direct correspondence between images and texts, she offers a series of mutually reinforcing readings of painting and poetry that ultimately locate the invention of a new romantic ideal within early imperial debates about domesticity and the role of citizens in Roman society.
Magical realism, primitivism and ethnography are historically and theoretically interrelated discourses. Mavellous folk and fairy tales, legends and myths are remote origins that received renewed attention with the rise of the avant-grade and American archaeology in the early twentieth century. In the Hispanic tradition, antecedents date back to medieval lore, which inspired chivalric and pastoral romances as well as the picaresque novel, finding a seminal synthesis in Don Quixote. In the New World, the Chronicles of the Indies, with their outlandish tales of discovery, drew not only from medieval and early Renaissance worldviews, but also from marvellous sources as varied as John Mandeville, Marco Polo, Ptolemy, Pliny and the Bible. Latin American authors have consistently cited these sources of magical realism, yet they looked at them through the prism of the avant-garde. Alejo Carpentier conceived of his seminal concept of lo real maravilloso americano as an answer to the Surrealists’ artificial merveilleux. Carpentier and Miguel Ángel Asturias, with his Surrealist view of the ancient Maya, coincided in late 1920s Paris with avant-garde primitivism and another magic realist, Venezuelan Arturo Uslar-Pietri, a close associate of Massimo Bontempelli, whose version of magical realism became their true spark, whereas Franz Roh’s influence in Latin America was negligible. Later authors like Juan Rulfo and Gabriel García Márquez significantly developed magical realist narratology, consolidating the Latin American trend and making it indispensable for understanding its international expansion based on the allegorical reinterpretation, and subversion, of dominant history – a crucial postcolonial endeavour for cultures around the world.
The chapter begins by differentiating between two English preconceptions of the American environment, wilderness and waste, and characterizes first-generation colonization as a pastoral retreat supported by English georgic assumptions and practices. The chapter then compares puritan and Algonquian conceptualizations of the natural environment, notably including differing conceptions of property, and discusses the influence of puritan justifications of colonization on John Locke’s theorization of land as alienable property. The chapter goes on to trace environmental changes wrought by colonization, including transformations effected by nonhuman agents as well as human agents, and locates these transformations in the climate context of the Little Ice Age. Domestic animals created environments in which certain English plants flourished while indigenous plants declined. Because English grain crops did not prosper in New England, however, the colonists adopted the indigenous grain, maize, and scaled up the indigenous forest-fallow cultivation system to unsustainable levels. Unsustainability in turn invited frontier expansion. The essay concludes by briefly investigating the tension in puritan thought and practice between worldly engagement and spiritual transcendence on both a national level, where it is evident in millennialism, and an individual level, where it shaped puritan poetics.
This chapter examines some of the Market Hill poems, which Swift wrote during bouts of intense creativity while in semi-retirement in the north of Ireland in the late 1720s. A subseries of poems written to, and in the guise of, the author’s hosts explicitly turn away from such famous works as Jonson’s ‘To Penshurst’ or Marvell’s ‘Upon Appleton House’ by moving inward: whereas the ideal poem in this mode celebrates a grand home as the material manifestation of the owner’s impeccable qualities, Swift instead voices the hostess as a trainee vexer, the host as a cruel dullard, the staff as aggravated upstarts, and even himself, in the character of an unwelcome if noteworthy houseguest. The gentrified British pastoral gives away to Irish realism. The satirical panegyrical ode has become a vehicle of self-critique. In markedly different ways, whether risibly or aggressively, the Market Hill poems deal with the Dean’s uncertain legacy as a Hibernian Patriot, a hard-worn but easily dashed image. This chapter ends with an examination of a shortlived but excessive verse war conducted with a rival cleric poet from Dublin who sought to tarnish Swift’s reputation.
After his return to Ireland, Swift mixed with brash younger clerics such as Thomas Sheridan and Patrick Delany. Daniel Jackson’s large nose proved to be the unlikely source of profound ekphrastic pieces written by the group. Jovial bagatelles aside, ‘To Mr Delany’ displays a mid-career poet querying his craft. In ‘The Progress of Poetry’ urban hacks and farmer’s geese alike have grown fat and shrill. ‘Advice to the Grub-Street Verse-Writers’ ironically advises how modern hacks might trick a real poet – Pope – into writing original works into the margins of their books. Swift continued to rework British and Irish georgic and pastoral poetry with extraordinary inventiveness in the 1720s, whether in drolly dreary hospitality poems or pseudo-prophecy verses in the voice of St Patrick himself. Swift found new ways to insult his friends, including his hostess Lady Anne Acheson (‘The Journal of a Modern Lady’, ‘Death and Daphne’) and Matthew Pilkington (‘Directions for a Birth-Day Song’), as well as emerging poets for whom he had little taste. Such insults were couched within the unlikely genres with which he engaged, from the Ovidian courtship tale to the royal ode.
Poets are makers, etymologically speaking. In practice, they are also thieves. Over a long career, from the early 1690s to the late 1730s, Jonathan Swift thrived on a creative tension between original poetry-making and the filching of familiar material from the poetic archive. The most extensive study of Swift's verse to appear in more than thirty years, Reading Swift's Poetry offers detailed readings of dozens of major poems, as well as neglected and recently recovered pieces. This book reaffirms Swift's prominence in competing literary traditions as diverse as the pastoral and the political, the metaphysical and the satirical, and demonstrates the persistence of unlikely literary tropes across his multifaceted career. Daniel Cook also considers the audacious ways in which Swift engages with Juvenal's satires, Horace's epistles, Milton's epics, Cowley's odes, and an astonishing array of other canonical and forgotten writers.
Two decades into the twenty-first century, Beethoven’s Third Symphony is programmed regularly by the world’s leading orchestras and remains popular with audiences. In contemporary mainstream classical musical culture, the Eroica continues to be the pre-eminent musical emblem of heroism and revolution. In visual media, the Eroica retains classical music’s conventional generic meaning of wealth and superior status, but it is also deployed in film, television and video game soundtracks to track markedly intelligent heroes and culturally sophisticated revolutionaries. As new critical theories engage with the symphony’s traditional interpretations, alternative readings of the Eroica are emerging in musical scholarship alongside the heroic/revolutionary trope. The pastoral, politics and freedom figure prominently in several recent close readings, while the Eroica is fast becoming a pivotal musical work in disability studies. As a central example in both heroic narratives of overcoming and human narratives of adaptation, the Eroica endures.
Analysing the fiction of Thomas Hardy, Chapter 4 considers Hardy’s depictions of deception, concealment and misleading appearances among humans alongside his interest in adaptive appearance. This interest clashed with Hardy’s channelling of the pastoral, which characterised the natural world and rural life by honesty and transparency. Critics have noted that Hardy’s fiction problematizes the ethics of honesty. It is argued here that the logic of adaptive appearance energised this tendency as characters’ fates depend on chance misperceptions and ambiguous appearances. This sense of Darwinian contingency complicates characters’ moral agency by suggesting that many of their acts, which have the effect of deceiving, are unconscious. Apparently purposeful behaviours blur with the more mechanised displays of natural and sexual selection. Through his evolutionary vision, Hardy sometimes reframes honesty and dishonesty as outgrowths of opposing primitive instincts toward altruism and egoism. However, this utilitarian framework also rendered deception morally ambiguous, allowing for the possibility of noble deceptions that would spare others pain. Hardy’s fiction further biologized deception by depicting physical bodies that hid or falsified their owners’ identities. Random variations and chance resemblances cause characters to interpret erroneous ancestral histories in each other, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
This chapter builds on the pioneering work of John Wilson Foster (‘Encountering Traditions’, in Nature in Ireland: A Scientific and Cultural History, ed. John Wilson Foster (Dublin: Lilliput, 1997) and John Waters (‘Topographical Poetry and the Politics of Culture in Ireland, 1772–1820’, in Romantic Generations, ed. Ghislaine McDayter, Guinn Batten, and Barry Milligan (Lewisbury: Bucknell University Press, 2001)), both of whom considered the ways in which English-language poets of the eighteenth century wrote about Irish land and landscape. The essay looks at poems written to celebrate the world of English-speaking owners of Irish farms and estates – vistas and pleasure gardens for instance – and poems about activities taking place in the countryside – gardening, farming, hunting, and team sports. Verses praising the wildness of untamed nature are also considered as are poems on violent events such as storms and extended frosts. The poems raise practical, theological, and aesthetic issues in both pastoral and mock-pastoral modes as well as in the emerging genre of ‘picturesque’ poetry. The chapter also considers popular poetry, such as demotic verse about country life, and indicates that, for some poets – Goldsmith and Laurence Whyte for instance – life in rural Ireland was not always idyllic.