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Malignant and Beneficent Fictions: Constructing Nature in Ecocriticism and Achebe's Arrow of God

Michael Lundblad


The recent introduction to Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment raises significant questions about how ecocritics will continue to define ecocritical theory and practice. One of the central issues involves the concept of speaking for nature, or determining how to let nature’s “voice” speak for itself. On the one hand, “the voice of nature [...] cannot speak through conventional means,” yet, on the other hand, ecocritics are trying to “read literature with a fresh sensitivity to the emergent voice of nature” (Branch et al. xii, xiii). Inevitably this “voice” can only be expressed, in literature at least, through human representations of non-human creatures and landscapes. Of course it is possible to argue for a shift of emphasis toward those representations, but I believe ecocritics need to be much more aware of the human costs involved. In the context of postcolonial nations struggling for social equality, we need to explore the ethical implications of speaking for nature, even if our sympathies might generally be labeled “green.”

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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