Guardianship and fellowship: Radicalism and the ecological imagination 1880-1940
Greenslade, W. (2012) Guardianship and fellowship: Radicalism and the ecological imagination 1880-1940. In: Rignall, J., ed. (2012) Ecology and the Literature of the British Left: The Red and the Green. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 151-163. ISBN 9781409418221
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This essay examines the interplay between strands of ecological thinking and radical politics between 1880 and 1940, focussing on the notion of guardianship, as opposed to mastery, of the earth. An efflorescence of political-ecological thinking in the 1880s and 1890s which informs the politics of the left, in particular simple-life socialism, loses ground after the First World War, as labour politics becomes strongly identified with the technocratic state and the challenges of urban society: eco-politics declines into a set of rearguard responses to the modernizing state, associated to some extent with the political right The essay concludes, however that forms of diffused ecological awareness live on in the literary imagination, as in E,M.Forster’s fiction and in Sylvia Townsend-Warner’s Lolly Willowes (1926) where the principle of guardianship becomes symbolically reinstalled.