My Anthropocene Novel

Monday, 4 April 2016

I've gleaned what I'm writing about here from a few articles I've been reading recently - some of them, I admit, rather sketchily - and if my understanding of them is correct, then it's made me look at this novel I've written, and which I'm trying to crowdfund into being published, in a fresh light.

It seems we are living in what is the Anthropocene age,an age in which, for the first time in the long history of our planet, the future development and evolution of the earth is being determined largely by human action. And what that action at present is heading towards is a massive environmental disaster, which will, of course, also be a human disaster. Living in such an age, some argue, is causing us as a species to suffer from a deep-seated psychogical anxiety about the bleak future ahead of us. 

Now art, I think, is in part an expression of human anxiety, and the central question of one of these articles I read was asking what literature, if any, being written at the present time, is directly addressing and giving expression to the anxiety brought about by this looming environmental disaster. The article suggested that, in mainstream literature at least, there wasn't that much, and  that we have to look to so-called fringe literature, such as fantasy, science-fiction, and the avant-garde, to find works that really do express this anxiety in powerful, and sometimes bleak and shocking terms. One of the novels it pointed to is, at it happens, a book that was published here on Unbound, the excellent "The Wake" by Paul Kingsnorth.

All this set me thinking about my own book, "The Hunt for the Great Bear". When I first started writing it, over five years ago now, I certainly didn't have it in mind to write an environmental disaster novel - that became one of the themes that attached itself to the story as I was working on it. Nor did I think I was in any way tapping into a collective human anxiety. But, looking at the it now, perhaps the reason the novel took such a strong hold on me from the moment I began writing it, the reason it did seem to be so insistent on driving me along with the work, was that it did tap into some fear and anxiety lodged in the collective unconscious, embracing and giving partial expression to the sense of future loss that lies at the root of that anxiety. I can't say for certain, but it does seem quite likely that, without having been fully aware of it at the time, I have written an Anthropocene novel.

And I do hope that one day you're able to read it.


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