1st Edition

Georgic Literature and the Environment Working Land, Reworking Genre

Edited By Sue Edney, Tess Somervell Copyright 2023
    268 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This expansive edited collection explores in depth the georgic genre and its connections to the natural world. Together, its chapters demonstrate that georgic—a genre based primarily on two classical poems about farming, Virgil’s Georgics and Hesiod’s Works and Days—has been reworked by writers throughout modern and early modern English-language literary history as a way of thinking about humans’ relationships with the environment.

    The book is divided into three sections: Defining Georgic, Managing Nature and Eco-Georgic for the Anthropocene. It centres the georgic genre in the ecocritical conversation, giving it equal prominence with pastoral, elegy and lyric as an example of ‘nature writing’ that can speak to urgent environmental questions throughout literary history and up to the present day. It provides an overview of the myriad ways georgic has been reworked in order to address human relationships with the environment, through focused case studies on individual texts and authors, including James Grainger, William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Seamus Heaney, Judith Wright and Rachel Blau DuPlessis.

    This is a much-needed volume for literary critics, academics and students engaged in ecocritical studies, environmental humanities and literature, addressing a significantly overlooked environmental literary genre.

    Foreword by David Fairer


    Sue Edney and Tess Somervell

    PART I Defining Georgic

    1 What Is Georgic’s Relation to Pastoral?

    Terry Gifford

    2 How Is Walden Georgic?

    Juan Christian Pellicer

    3 Middlemarch and the Georgic Novel

    Henry Power

    PART II Managing Nature

    4 Agrilogistics and Pest Control in Early Modern Georgic

    Todd Andrew Borlik

    5 James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane and Naturalists’ Georgic

    Brycchan Carey

    6 Rural Frances Burney

    Barbara Witucki

    7 Wordsworth’s Tidal Georgic

    Ralph Pite

    8 Wordsworth’s ‘Michael’ and the Imperilled Georgic: Questions of Agricultural Permanence

    Ethan Mannon

    9 Georgic Culture in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native: Participant Observation

    Philipp Erchinger

    PART III Eco-Georgic for the Anthropocene

    10 Georgic Hope in Robert Bloomfield and John Clare

    Sue Edney

    11 Seamus Heaney’s Elegiac and Domestic Georgics

    Shun LU

    12 The Semi-Georgic Australian Sugarcane Novel

    Elizabeth A. Smyth

    13 Judith Wright and Virgil’s Third Georgic

    Sarah Lawrence

    14 Derek Jarman’s Gay Georgic

    Greg Garrard

    15 Georgic Reversals in Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ Days and Works

    Harriet Tarlo


    Sue Edney and Tess Somervell


    Sue Edney is a lecturer in English at Bristol University, UK, the Reviews Editor for Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism and the ecocriticism representative on the steering committee of the International Ecolinguistics Association.

    Tess Somervell is Lecturer in English at Worcester College, University of Oxford, UK, and previously held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Leeds.

    "The georgic is the genre of the Anthropocene. More than pastoral, georgic means a working countryside, humans embedded with nonhumans, sustaining without exploiting. These essays pose critical ecological questions arising from centuries of writing from Hesiod and Virgil to John Clare, Derek Jarman and Isabella Tree. Now more than ever we need the georgic to think with."

    Donna Landry, Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature, University of Kent, UK