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The new wave of na­ture writ­ing has its crit­ics. Phrases such as ‘bour­geois es­capism’ have been tossed around

The Herald - Arts - - BOOKS -

Then maybe there’s an in­creas­ing de­sire for some kind of ma­te­ri­al­ity in an in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal world. We want to get our hands dirty in some way.

I think this might be key. Mac­don­ald re­minds us in H Is For Hawk that the re­vival of in­ter­est in na­ture writ­ing in the 1930s was born out of the trauma of the First World War and a fear of the next. So could the cur­rent re­vival have any­thing to do with the fi­nan­cial crash of 2008 and how it ended con­fi­dence in a par­tic­u­lar mode of cap­i­tal­ist life?

Some­thing that Kathleen Jamie once said has stuck in my mind: “I feel I might be strik­ing a tiny blow by get­ting out into these places, and de­vel­op­ing a lan­guage and a way of see­ing which is not theirs but ours. And when we do that – step out­doors, and look up – we’re not lit­tle cogs in the cap­i­tal­ist ma­chine. It’s the sim­plest act of re­sis­tance and re­newal.”

For some, then, na­ture writ­ing is a way to stake a claim on the world.

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