A Month in the Country (1980) – J.L. Carr’s best known work – retraces the memories of Tom Birkin, a Great War veteran, as he spends a blissful summer in Oxgodby, Yorkshire, in order to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the village church. The novella then follows Birkin’s artistic progress, his friendship with fellow veteran Charles Moon, and the bonds he develops with the local community. Situated somewhere between L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between (1953) and Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy (1991), A Month in the Country is a curiously hybrid work, still imbued by nostalgia for the comforts of England’s ‘green and pleasant land’, but also borrowing the staple elements of postmodernist novels. Through the meticulous restoring of the hidden 14th century mural and the frequent walks in the English countryside, Birkin tries to get in touch with a part of his identity that was buried under the fields of the Somme. Indeed, the novella emphasizes the fact that the First World War made the soldiers foreigners in their own country and probes into the ways in which personal and national identity may be restored, and trauma ‘worked through
This chapter investigates representations of London from the late twentieth century to the other side of the millennial threshold; the complex layers of the urban palimpsest are explored in relation to Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor, Martin Amis’s London Fields, Emma Tennant’s Two Women of London, Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell and Michael Winterbottom’s film Wonderland. Despite the nihilistic stance that many texts appear to propose, this analysis demonstrates that traces of redemption are also visible in many of these postmodernist representations of London. The metamorphic city thus becomes a paradoxical dimension where metropolitan lives, though apparently entrenched in the claustrophobic space of their urban experience, may give in to the magical openness of chance. Moreover, beyond the spectral gaps, a glimpse of the ‘real’ may appear unexpectedly
This chapter examines the relationship between landscape, memory and mourning in Holocaust literature, with a particular focus on the work of Anne Michaels. After outlining the spatial disruptions and displacements entailed in both Holocaust experience itself and the Holocaust memory of later generations, it explores the degree to which images of landscape offer a meaningful and ethically-sound means of negotiating these issues.
We create landscape and landscape creates us. As psychic topography, landscape is as insolubly ambivalent as the human imagination. Deeply imbued with meaning, landscape provides the existential means for understanding and managing the self and our place in the world. This chapter explores the topographical sense of self-identity by focusing on Hitler’s relationship with the architectural model of his birthplace, Linz, as Berlin was steadily being destroyed by the Red Army and his own death was imminent. This chapter explores how Hitler re-enforced himself through art and culture and the relationship between art and power with an interesting comparison between the art mania of the Nazis and that of Revolutionary France, whereby the arts served the psychological needs of a transitional culture struggling for coherence and self-esteem.
First theorised by the eighteenth-century English clergyman William Gilpin, the Picturesque has now attained a global usefulness. Like other Enlightenment legacies, it serves as a mode of post-imperial auto-critique. Gilpin’s Picturesque has reemerged in the twenty-first century as the aesthetic of the post-imperial backpacker, the post-industrial wasteland, the anti-globalisation movement, and the Middle Eastern War Zone. It is also in a less cool and ironic, less postmodern, form the aesthetic of official conservation and wilderness-preservation agencies in Britain and the United States. Cool anguish is its affect. A Picturesque aesthetics is not a politics. However, from the beginning of the movement a certain radical ambivalence towards economic and social hierarchy and exclusivity has accompanied the Picturesque. A sensibility attuned to the Picturesque is likely to be critical of capitalist modernity’s drive for maximal extraction from land and landscape, from human labour and the natural world. Together, Picturesque aesthetics and pedestrianism have provided very different writers and shapers of landscapes with appropriate stances from which to represent themselves and their natural worlds. For the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century English writers Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Sophie Dixon, for the Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh, who is our contemporary, and for the Syrian authorities who administer the Picturesque installation of Quneitra, something we could call a shared Picturesque aesthetic furnishes a shared vocabulary that turns on a taste for wildness, ruins, and decay; a suspicion of development and modernity; and a sympathy for the vagrant, the outcast, and the downtrodden.
No account of the contemporary relationship between landscape and identity can afford to ignore the impact of globalization. Understanding the intricate imbrications of space and subjectivity increasingly requires a global perspective. This essay examines tensions in the global imaginary as they are articulated in William Gibson’s novel, Pattern Recognition (2003). The framework for this reading is taken from Arjun Appadurai’s essay, ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’ (1990), in which he divides the ‘imagined worlds’ of globalization into five overlaping categories: ethnoscapes, financescapes, technoscapes, mediascapes and ideoscapes. The heroine of Gibson’s novel, Cayce Pollard, moves across and into each of these -scapes and finds herself positioned precariously in a complex economy of global flows: a node in the network of people and power, finance and commodities, art and machines, images and information.
This chapter considers ideas of land and identity processes through an original consideration of landscape. Following Taussig’s argument that cultural meaning and identification are less constituted in institutionalised and ritualised signification than emergent in the performance of life, attention focuses upon the performative character of landscape and its relationality with land and identity (1992). For over a decade landscape has been exemplary of the critical debates between representational and so-called non-representational theories affecting cultural geographies and related disciplines. At the same time discussions concerning mobility, in for example the relative irrelevance of institutional borders and the occurrence of translocal identities contest the familiar emphasis upon the habitual and situated character of landscape, identity and its role in the work of representations. This paper offers a contribution to the growing awareness of a need to try and engage these debates surrounding landscape across disciplines. Making land significant in life is considered through landscape in the notion of spacing. The notion of an everyday, gentle politics is introduced to the constitution of identities and feelings of land. This approach is pursued particularly in terms of how we understand artwork and representation, insistently in comparison with wider kinds of practice. Landscape is considered as the performative expressive-poetics of spacing in a way that makes possible an always emergent dynamic relationality between representations, practices and identities. Finally, identities and values concerning land are produced relationally in the energy cracks between performativity and institutions, as the several investigations upon which this chapter draws testify