Ecology and the Literature of the British Left: The Red and the Green, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Ecology and the Literature of the British Left

The Red and the Green, 1st Edition

By H. Gustav Klaus, Valentine Cunningham

Edited by John Rignall


280 pages

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Paperback: 9781138249301
pub: 2016-09-09
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Premised on the belief that a social and an ecological agenda are compatible, this collection offers readings in the ecology of left and radical writing from the Romantic period to the present. While early ecocriticism tended to elide the bitter divisions within and between societies, recent practitioners of ecofeminism, environmental justice, and social ecology have argued that the social, the economic and the environmental have to be seen as part of the same process. Taking up this challenge, the contributors trace the origins of an environmental sensibility and of the modern left to their roots in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, charting the ways in which the literary imagination responds to the political, industrial and agrarian revolutions. Topics include Samuel Taylor Coleridge's credentials as a green writer, the interaction between John Ruskin's religious and political ideas and his changing view of nature, William Morris and the Garden City movement, H. G. Wells and the Fabians, the devastated landscapes in the poetry and fiction of the First World War, and the leftist pastoral poetry of the 1930s. In historicizing and connecting environmentally sensitive literature with socialist thought, these essays explore the interactive vision of nature and society in the work of writers ranging from William Wordsworth and John Clare to John Berger and John Burnside.


'If it is to gain further acceptance, the new discipline of ecocriticism must produce sustained and serious literary criticism. This collection of richly literary-critical essays shows the way by combining left-leaning ('red') and ecological ('green') concerns. The relevance of these concerns to our present historical situation is repeatedly illuminated by penetrating analyses of literary reflections upon ecology. This is a compelling read for anyone alert to literature and the environment.' Gabriel Egan, De Montfort University, UK 'Ecology and the Literature of the British Left […] is a stimulating introduction to its subject and a foundation for further ecocritical studies.' Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment ’…full of fresh thinking which anyone interested in writing’s capacity to envision afresh the social and environmental worlds should read.’ The British Society for Literature and Science ’The collection is competently edited and provides well-researched essays that offer unique insights into important philosophical fields. The sixteen essays that constitute this volume cover a wide range of authors, from William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge to such late-twentieth-century authors as George Mackay Brown and Alasdair Gray. In so doing, the book offers more than two centuries’ worth of evidence that the Red and the Green-the leftist and the ecocritical viewpoints-are intertwined.’ BARS Review

About the Authors/Editor

John Rignall is Emeritus Reader in English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. H. Gustav Klaus is Emeritus Professor of the Literature of the British Isles at the University of Rostock. Valentine Cunningham is Professor of English Literature at Oxford and Fellow and Tutor in English at Corpus Christi College.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature