Postnatural Environments: Literary Cartographies of Pollution in Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse, John Burnside’s Glister, and Joseph D’Lacey’s Garbage Man
Yazgünoğlu, Kerim Can
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Drawing attention to the dark side of nature-culture interactions, this dissertation addresses the question of what comes after nature by exploring how toxicity signals the end of pristine, untouched nature, and how nature becomes “postnatural” in the twenty-first-century British fiction, namely Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse (2007), John Burnside’s Glister (2008), and Joseph D’Lacey’s Garbage Man (2009). These three novels, which are mainly concerned with environmental issues, provide penetrating insights into polluted and poisoned environments, and express ecological concerns in consideration of human exposures to toxicity in quotidian lives. In this context, they specifically present the ways in which postnatural environments are already part of people’s bodily natures by highlighting the ongoing toxic interaction between the human and the environment. In this way, expanding on the recent discussions on “postgreen ecology,” “dark ecology,” and “rubbish ecology,” this study offers an ecocritical engagement with the selected novels, illustrating how each of them helps to focalise and trouble literary, cultural and ecological assumptions about polluted environments. In the introduction of this dissertation, the arguments about postnatural environments are explained by using contemporary ecocritical theories. These three novels are discussed in three respective chapters in terms of postgreen, dark, and rubbish ecologies that create postnatural cartographies through toxicity. The first chapter examines Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse, exploring how the environmental damage already wrought on the planet and its atmosphere by anthropogenic intervention produces postgreen ecologies. The second chapter scrutinizes John Burnside’s Glister, and demonstrates how toxins and pollutants in the air and the soil due to derelict chemical factory create dark ecological transformations in a post-industrial town. The third chapter analyses Joseph D’Lacey’s Garbage Man, in its social and ecological contexts, as it questions how garbage and dumping can produce rubbish ecologies and how consumerism can construct rubbish societies. These chapters undertake ecocritical readings in relation to the relevant theoretical discussions. In consequence, postnatural environments as exemplified in these novels indicate a “postecological” reality generated by postgreen, dark, and rubbish ecologies. This reality shows how humans and nonhumans are trans-corporeally connected in toxic relations.