1st Edition

Disturbing Nature in Narrative Literature

By Philip Armstrong Copyright 2025
    286 Pages
    by Routledge

    Disturbing Nature in Narrative Literature identifies and analyses encounters with unexpected, disconcerting, and unsettling aspects of the natural world, as these have been represented across a wide range of literary texts. It includes in-depth discussion of both familiar and less familiar works from the British, American, and European literary traditions, and from the Classical period to today. The motifs discussed include earthquakes, forests, storms, animals, and oceanic depth, and the writers include Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Shakespeare, Aphra Behn, Voltaire, Heinrich von Kleist, Herman Melville, HG Wells, JRR Tolkien, Gabriel García Márquez, José Saramago, Margaret Atwood, and Annie Proulx. Rich in both close textual analysis and contextual discussion, Disturbing Nature in Narrative Literature offers a vivid introduction to several topical approaches to literary-critical analysis, including ecocriticism, new materialism, affect theory, and human-animal studies, thereby demonstrating how literature shapes and is shaped by our response to the pressing questions of our time. 

    Introduction: Moving Nature 




    1. The Literary Seismograph: Earthquakes in European Literature and Thought   


    2. Fear of the Forest: Cultural Xylophobia from Pliny to Proulx


    3. Shakespeare’s Vital Parts: Animal, Vegetable, and Meteorological Actors on the Shakespearean Stage




    4. Baleful Light: Literary Encounters with the Gaze of Animals


    5. Taxonomy and Wonder: Old World Bestiaries and New World Marvels


    6. The Lower Deep: Fathoming the Abyss in Moby-Dick





    Philip Armstrong is a Professor of English at the Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha / University of Canterbury in Aotearoa New Zealand. He is the author of Shakespeare’s Visual Regime (2000), Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis (Routledge 2001), What Animals Mean in the Literature of Modernity (Routledge 2008), A New Zealand Book of Beasts (co-written with Annie Potts and Deidre Brown, 2013), Sheep (2016), and two books o