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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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Machines at Work and Play: George Saunders and the Post-Pastoral

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Machines come in many guises. Surely the most remembered example from Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden is the locomotive that interrupted Nathaniel Hawthorne’s brief idyll at “Sleepy Hollow” on July 27, 1844. According to Hawthorne, “The long shriek, harsh, above all other harshness […] tells the story of busy men, citizens, from the hot street” (13).

For a discussion of pastoral in the work of the contemporary American writer George Saunders, however, it might be better to start with another example that Marx cites from Hawthorne’s notebook, describing a different kind of scene, and a different kind of busy man. Hawthorne tells how, while in “Sleepy Hollow,” he observed an ant colony and soon became something more than a passive witness. “Like a malevolent genius,” he dropped grains of sand to block the entrance to an ant hole and entertained himself by watching the panicked reaction of the ants. To the insects, “How inexplicable […] must be the agency which has effected this mischief” (14).

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