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Jean RhysTwenty-First-Century Approaches$
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Erica Johnson and Patricia Moran

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402194

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402194.001.0001

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Jean Rhys’s Environmental Language: Oppositions, Dialogues and Silences

Jean Rhys’s Environmental Language: Oppositions, Dialogues and Silences

(p.85) Chapter 4 Jean Rhys’s Environmental Language: Oppositions, Dialogues and Silences
Jean Rhys

Elaine Savory

Edinburgh University Press

Postcolonial ecocriticism is a new and rapidly growing field, characterized by a consciousness of the simultaneous depredation of subordinated people and land both during and after formal colonialism (see Huggin and Tiffin, Postcolonial Ecocriticism, 2010; eds. Deloughrey and Handley, Postcolonial Ecologies, 2011). Rhys is somewhat of a complicated case with regard to placement in colonial and postcolonial contexts, coming as she did from the plantocracy in Dominica, but living most of her adult life in economically straitened circumstances in Britain. In Rhys’s fictional world, nature is not a benevolent being or attractive ornament. It often aids and abets amoral power, but also when given the chance to escape the particularly British desire to turn wilderness into dependent, subservient gardens, nature can become a kind of parallel to Rhys’s anarchistic (if often outgunned and outlawed) protagonists. Rhys’s awareness of power disparities extends to her awareness of environment, and reading her work through the lens of ecocriticism allows us to see this clearly.

Keywords:   Jean Rhys, ecocriticism, postcolonial, gardens, nature

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