Energy, Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Fiction: Novel Ecologies, by Barri J. Gold
The global climate crisis we are currently facing has a history older than perhaps first thought. While the majority of us working in eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury studies are well aware of the impact the Industrial Revolution, the turn to the use of fossil fuels, has had, reading the literature produced during this time as a part of the discourse on climate change is a relatively recent development. Barri J. Gold’s Energy, Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Fiction: Novel Ecologies takes a vital step in highlighting the necessity of re-reading fiction in order to understand and re-evaluate our place as humans within an ecosystem in crisis. As she makes clear, ‘neither science nor literature can be disconnected from the larger cultural problems that surround, suffuse, and draw from them. Thus, in a time of both ecological and educational crises, this book also queries the ongoing role in the humanities in addressing problems that seem to call primarily for scientific solutions’ (p. 3). Gold argues that if reading literature is to offer a solution to the ecological crisis, we must think of energy, that which underpins said crisis, ‘as a concept, a form or structure, a way of thinking about the world’ (p. 15, original emphasis). In doing so, she demonstrates how working in the humanities has the potential to destabilise the cultural myths that contribute to and sustain our climate crisis.