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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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Pastoral Motifs in British Social-realist Cinema: Illusions and Disillusions in the Quest for a locus amoenus



Since the late 1950s, the British films that have tried to represent contemporary society and especially its lower classes have put forward the figure of the working class hero. At first glance, this essentially urban character2 has little to do with nature and British social realism is therefore not considered an appropriate film genre for pastoral. However, as early as 1956 and since then, these films – some more overtly than others – have tended to use some pastoral motifs in their depiction of the hero’s daily life and aspirations.

An Urban Hero Longing for Nature: in Search of a Locus Amoenus

Although seemingly at ease in his urban environment, the working class hero often shows the need to go to the country to get away from various kinds of constraints – the factory where he works, the terraces where he lives – in short the drudgery of everyday life in the city. Living in the urban jungle sometimes jeopardises his sanity (for example, Morgan: a Suitable Case for Treatment), which explains why the hero likes to go for a walk in the country around his provincial town. Nature has an ← 243 | 244 → appeasing quality for him because if urban strolls are often synonymous with wandering and despair, rural hikes offer an opportunity for contemplation. In British social-realist cinema, the country is represented or rather left for the viewer to imagine through a series of recurrent signs: footpaths, hills, meadows, stonewalls, gates, a few animals like sheep...

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