The Human and the Nonhuman, Beyond Anthropocentrism, Beyond Boundaries: A Material Ecocritical View on Monique Roffey’s and Andrus Kivirähk’s Work

Maris Sõrmus

Abstract


The article explores ecocritically nature-culture interactions in contemporary British and Estonian literature: Monique Roffey’s and Andrus Kivirähk’s writing. I start by elucidating the portrayal of nature, the way in which the writers under discussion reconsider anthropocentrism and established boundaries. Both novelists turn a delicate eye to nature, portraying a posthuman world where nature and culture are no longer dichotomous but perpetually entangled, challenging anthropocentrism and indicating a different, more envirocentric approach to literature. I will focus first on human-nonhuman interactions, analysing next how the normative human and nonhuman beings are transformed beyond recognition, shattering the anthropocentric core of the concept of agency and voice. In line with material ecocriticism, the currently emerging ecocritical branch that re-conceptualises nature as an active agent, the writers mingle the nonhuman with the human as a Subject, posing a threat to anthropo-normativity and envisioning an uncannily different reality. The article’s final section explores the way how nature and culture are inextricably merged, not only their voices but also bodies, indicating the key new materialist idea of trans-corporeality – both culture and nature as tangled corporealities. In line with new materialism, the writers importantly revision the dominant dichotomous anthropocentric world, laying out a future that is naturalcultural.

Keywords


material ecocriticism; Monique Roffey; contemporary Estonian literature; natureculture; trans-corporeality; nature’s voice and agency; anthropocentrism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12697/IL.2014.19.1.13

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ISSN 1406-0701 (print)
ISSN 2228-4729 (online)