Exploring the literature of environmental moral dilemmas from the Hebrew Bible to modern times, this book argues the necessity of cross-disciplinary approaches to environmental studies, as a subject affecting everyone, in every aspect of life.
Moral dilemmas are central in the literary genre of protest, against the effects of industry, particularly in Romantic literature and ‘Condition of England’ novels. Writers from the time of the Industrial Revolution to the present—including William Blake, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola, Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, T.S. Eliot, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, and J.M. Coetzee—follow the Bible in seeing environmental problems in moral terms, as a consequence of human agency. The issues raised by these and other writers - involving damage to the environment and its effects on health and quality of life, particularly on the poor; economic conflicts of interest; water and air pollution, deforestation, and the environmental effects of war—are fundamentally the same today, making their works a continual source of interest and insight.
Sketching a brief literary history on the impact of human behavior on the environment, this volume will be of interest to readers researching environmental studies, literary studies, religious studies and international development, as well as a useful resource to scientists and readers of the Arts.
About the Author
David Aberbach is Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, McGill University, Montreal, Canada and Honorary Visiting Associate at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford, UK. His books include, Surviving Trauma: Loss, Literature, and Psychoanalysis (1989); Charisma in Politics, Religion and the Media (1996); and National Poetry, Empires and War (Routledge 2016), Nationalism, War and Jewish Education (Routledge 2018).
Table of Contents
Preface by Dr. Helen Gavin
A Note on the Hebrew Bible
1. The environment and the betrayal of the covenant
2. Nature and the biblical calendar: festivals and psalms
3.‘Promised lands’ and national poetry
4. Sacred landscapes in exile
5. Kadosh! Kadosh! Kadosh!
6. The Bible, charity and agricultural law
7. The piper at the gates of dawn: loss and Nature
8. ‘Man is the tree of the field’
9. Free will, divine Law and science
10. Energy and its abuse
11. Environmental disaster in the Bible
12. The apocalyptic beast let loose
13. Swords to ploughshares: the vision of universal peace
14. Humility: God’s reply to Job from the whirlwind - where were you?
15. Industry and the Romantics: Blake, Wordsworth and Goethe
16. The environment and ‘Condition of England’ novelists
17. Marx: the industrial environment as crime
18. Ibsen, Chekhov, and the moral environment
19. The rediscovery of Nature in Mendele, Bialik, and Tchernichowsky
20. The Waste Land: sin and suffering
21. Environmental abuse in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath
22. Post-1945 literature: the quest for a lost Eden