The Importance Of Nature In Literature

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An age of environmental anxiety calls for a reconsideration of hitherto accepted cultural assumptions. A questioning of hierarchies of dominance and power—patriarchal, racist, colonial, anthropocentric—has resulted in a tentative yet gradual shift of significance from such power centres to hitherto marginalized voices that show a willingness to expound feelings of mutuality and interdependence. In the modern world, with its reduced and circumscribed landscapes, the time has come for man to be ready to explore natural systems as models of diversity offering patterns of survival. In “Revaluing Nature: Towards an Ecological Criticism,” Glen Love writes: “Looking at, listening to, the natural world seems an act of sanity, of deference to natural…show more content…
Even a casual survey of literature down the ages reveals that ecology, though a new word and a new science, has been an ancient theme in literary works. A great deal of literature has dealt explicitly with nature, either to express an aesthetic appreciation of its beauty or to explore the man-nature relationship. Michael Branch in “Ecocriticism: The Nature of Nature in Literary Theory and Practice,” points out that literature has struggled with questions of value comparable to those being asked by ecophilosophy. Questions about the proper role of humans in the cosmic scheme have always engaged the literary imagination, and concerns about maintaining or restoring a right relationship with nature are both thematically and symbolically present in the literature of every culture. Thus literature has always conditioned our philosophical understanding of nature. Indeed, even the aesthetic categories by which our feeling for nature are understood, the beautiful, the picturesque, the sublime, the scenic, the wild etc. have been defined largely through their use in literary and critical contexts.
Today, when the threat to the environment has assumed overwhelming proportions, man’s relationship to nature requires a redefinition. The time has come for a reaffirmation of age-old concepts like pastoralism, romanticism, transcendentalism and naturalism, which define and explore man’s relation to nature. In the light of the present environmental awareness, redirecting human consciousness to a full consideration of its proper place in a threatened natural world can be the most important function of literature today (Love
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