Pastoral (The New Critical Idiom)

Pastoral (The New Critical Idiom)

Terry Gifford

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 0415147336

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Pastoral is a succinct and up-to-date introductory text to the history, major writers and critical issues of this genre. Terry Gifford clarifies the different uses of pastoral covering:

  • the history of the genre from its classical origins to Elizabethan drama, through eighteenth-century pastoral poetry to contemporary American nature writing
  • the pastoral impulse of retreat and return, beginning with constructions of Arcadia and using a combination of close reading of quoted texts, cultural studies and eco-criticism
  • post-pastoral texts with a look at writers, who Gifford argues, have discovered ways of reconnecting us with our natural environment.


















convinced is no guarantee that he has actually understood this shepherd’s philosophy. In fact Spenser has him immediately make two moves which demonstrate that he has fundamentally failed to understand what has been said to him. First he offers the shepherd money and Meliboe has to explain again that ‘that mucky masse’ is ‘the cause of mens decay’. Secondly he sets about courting Pastorella ‘With such queint usage, fit for Queenes and Kings, / Ne ever had such knightly service seene’. Pastorella,

they desire no more, nor will be drawne To any contestation. The Elizabethan society of 1606 is shown to be one in which a lawyer is now as indispensable as his work is absent from Daniel’s ironically named The Queenes Arcadia where there are, No puchasings, no contracts, no comerse, No politique commands, no services, No generall assemblies but to feast, And to delight themselves with fresh pastimes. The lawyer’s lament is wittily touching and heartfelt: ‘How can I hope THE DISCOURSE OF

attention to the moral superiority of even a life as harsh as that in the open air of Arden in comparison with the court’s inhumanity: Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind As man’s ingratitude. THE CULTURAL CONTEXTS OF RETURN Thy tooth is not so keen, Because thou art not seen, Although thy breath be rude. (II. vii. 174) What we have seen of the court is the intrigue, jealousy and hatred that have led to exile in Arden. This comparison is set against Touchstone’s criteria

returned native. He is a self-educated man writing for a literary audience caught in the tension of knowing, but not belonging to, rural culture. Hardy’s local knowledge is evident in the fifth sentence of the novel. Hardy knows the precise moment in the day when, ‘looking upwards a furze-cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home.’ This opening of the novel impresses the reader with its authenticity. Yet Hardy must also

Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) in Missoula, Montana, a year before the book was published: I am going to ask for help, after all. I have to ask for help. This valley gives and gives and gives. It has been giving more timber to the country, for the last fifty years, than any other valley in the Lower 48, and still not one acre of it is protected as wilderness. What has begun as a mysterious and gripping fiction ends with a plea for the reader to write to a dozen

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