This essay is a speculative reflection on literary fiction’s—and notably the contemporary French novel’s—ability to register the effects of climate change. The first half engages with Amitav Ghosh’s thinking on this question in his 2016 book The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable. The second examines Marguerite Duras’s Un barrage contre le Pacifique (1950) as a novel about rising sea levels and discusses what it might mean to read this classic in these terms. The essay then considers which works today might be Duras’s successors and what such a refocusing of our sights on the material effects on the earth of fossil-fueled capitalism and empire implies for reading today.
The Rise of the Sea and the Novel
thangam ravindranathanis an associate professor of French Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Behold an Animal: Four Exorbitant Readings (forthcoming, Northwestern University Press, 2020), Là ou je ne suis pas: Récits de dévoyage (Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2012); and coauthor (with Antoine Traisnel) of Donner le change: L’Impensé animal (Hermann, 2016).
Thangam Ravindranathan; The Rise of the Sea and the Novel. differences 1 December 2019; 30 (3): 1–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-7973974
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