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Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral

International Perspectives

Edited By Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd, Charles Holdefer and Thomas Pughe

In a time of global environmental crisis, pastoralism may seem beside the point. Yet pastoral ideals are still alive even though they often manifest themselves by ironic indirection. What can the pastoral tradition teach us about our ties to particular places?
The contributors to this volume attempt to lay the groundwork for the ongoing concern with pastoral and with its critical revision.
This volume brings together new essays that focus on painting, photography, poetry, essay, fiction and film, from the Renaissance to the present. They also take into account an astonishing variety of pastoral places, in Europe, Africa, and North America; country and city; suburbia and industrial zones.
Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral is not only about reassessing the past, but also provides a sense of future developments as the pastoral reinvents itself for the 21 st century.
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A Pastoral Place in Language? The Poems of Edward Thomas (1878–1917)


Pastoral place is both geographical and imaginary. Virgil’s Arcadia, for example, is both a real place on the map – a hilly region in the Peloponnese – and a place of the mind that we can visit through his poems without ever having to stir from our urban dwellings.1 I would like to suggest that the pastoral can also be a space in language where its focal crux – the tense combination of real and idealised country spaces, the “natural” and the “unnatural” – is acted out. To do this I shall examine certain poems by the English pastoral writer Edward Thomas.

Let me begin with one of his best-known pieces:

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –

The name, because one afternoon

Of heat the express-train drew up there

Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.

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