“Everything is Toxic”: Ecological Loss and Grief in Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres
‘Ecological grief’ can be termed as the feeling that we experience due to ‘ecological loss’ caused by either natural or man-made events. Given that we have been living through the age of Anthropocene in which environmental changes are mostly man-made, American writer Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres (1991) can be counted as a novel that sheds light on the destructive consequences of exploitive human actions enacted on valued landscapes. As a powerful feminist retelling of William Shakespeare’s King Lear (1606), Jane Smiley reimagines the playtext in the American Midwest in 1979 when the United States underwent an agricultural crisis and the land was systematically exploited with chemicals and pesticides to increase capitalistic productivity. Smiley’s critique of equating the land with the female body in A Thousand Acres is put forward provocatively as an ecofeminist concern since eco-blind and patriarchal ideology results in loss of deep contact with the natural world and brings ‘grief’ to the lives of particularly female characters in the novel. To this end, the scope of this article is to analyse ‘ecological loss and grief’ concept in relation to Jane Smiley’s ecofeminist vision as it is embodied in A Thousand Acres.
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