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|Title:||Pastoral Place and Violence in Contemporary British Fiction|
Department of English, NTNU
|Abstract:||This paper close-reads Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13 (2017), Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project (2016) and Jim Crace’s Harvest (2013) as exemplars of a larger wave of fiction reimagining the British village as a microcosm of global violence. Against a backdrop of theories on pastoral from Raymond Williams’s The Country and the City (1974), Paul Alpers, Terry Gifford, and John Kinsella, and ideas on violence, the essay considers in each novel the dynamics of pastoral and violence, testing whether existing critical ideas on the pastoral have the scope and reach to encompass the darkest and most visceral elements of contemporary rural fiction. The study finds that 1) McGregor’s Reservoir 13 is a quintessential post-pastoral text, engaging with all of Gifford’s tenets of the mode, yet with suggestions of child-murder and pedophilia that create a tense relationship between the novel and post-pastoral’s predominantly eco-critical bent; 2) Macrae Burnet uses a remote Scottish estate to attack the pastoral in nearly all of its historical forms, de-romanticizing lives of shepherds and crofters through representation of a traumatized place of structural and physical violence and sexual abuse; 3) Crace’s anti-pastoral novel Harvest presents a nameless, timeless English village, where enclosure for pasture is a catalyst for destruction rather than development. The study concludes that while these novels engage the pastoral in various extant forms, their elements of extreme violence denote a globalized, twenty-first-century development of the mode.|
|Appears in Collections:||Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics|
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