Wilderness into Civilized Shapes: Reading the Postcolonial Environment

Wilderness into Civilized Shapes: Reading the Postcolonial Environment

by Laura Wright


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This study examines how postcolonial landscapes and environmental issues are represented in fiction. Wright creates a provocative discourse in which the fields of postcolonial theory and ecocriticism are brought together.

Laura Wright explores the changes brought by colonialism and globalization as depicted in an array of international works of fiction in four thematically arranged chapters. She looks first at two traditional oral histories retold in modern novels, Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness (South Africa) and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood (Kenya), that deal with the potentially devastating effects of development, particularly through deforestation and the replacement of native flora with European varieties. Wright then uses J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (South Africa), Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (India and Canada), and Joy Williams’s The Quick and the Dead (United States) to explore the use of animals as metaphors for subjugated groups of individuals. The third chapter deals with India’s water crisis via Arundhati Roy’s activism and her novel, The God of Small Things. Finally, Wright looks at three novels—Flora Nwapa’s Efuru (Nigeria), Keri Hulme’s The Bone People (New Zealand), and Sindiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother (South Africa)—that depict women’s relationships to the land from which they have been dispossessed.

Throughout Wilderness into Civilized Shapes, Wright rearticulates questions about the role of the writer of fiction as environmental activist and spokesperson, the connections between animal ethics and environmental responsibility, and the potential perpetuation of a neocolonial framework founded on western commodification and resource-based imperialism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820335681
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 04/15/2010
Pages: 178
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

LAURA WRIGHT is head of the English Department at Western Carolina University. Her books include Wilderness into Civilized Shapes: Reading the Postcolonial Environment (Georgia).

Table of Contents

acknowledgments vii
Imagining the Postcolonial Environment 1
chapter one.
Inventing Tradition and Colonizing the Plants: Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood and Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness 19
chapter two.
Safari, Zoo, and Dog Pound: Vegetarianism, Extinction, and the Place of Animals in the Postcolonial Environment 56
chapter three.
“Swimming in the River of Life” but Caught in “the Stream of Justice”: India’s Water Woes and Arundhati Roy 103
chapter four.
Prophecy, Motherhood, and the Land: An Exploration of Postcolonial Ecofeminism 128
Writing and Theorizing the Environmental Interregnum 174
notes 181
works cited 193
index 205

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