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Energy, Ecocriticism, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Novel Ecologies

Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science, and Medicine


Winner: British Society for Literature and Science, 2021 Book Prize for best book in the field of literature and science. 


Energy, Ecocriticism, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction: Novel Ecologies draws on energy concepts to revisit some of our favorite books—Mansfield ParkJane EyreGreat Expectations, and The War of the Worlds—and the ways these shape our sense of ourselves as ecological beings. Barri J. Gold regards the laws of thermodynamics not solely as a set of physical principles, but also as a cultural and conceptual form that we can use to reimagine our historically vexed relationship to the natural world. Beginning with an examination of the parallel inceptions of energy and ecology in the mid-nineteenth century, this book considers the question of how we may better read and interpret our world, developing a recipe for experimental reading and insisting upon the importance of literary studies in a world driving to ecological catastrophe.