The Georgic Mode in Twentieth-Century American Literature: The Satisfactions of Soil and Sweat explores environmental writing that foregrounds labor. Ethan Mannon argues that Virgil’s Georgics, as well as the georgic mode in general, exerted considerable influence upon some of America’s best-known writers—including Robert Frost, Willa Cather, and Wendell Berry—and that these and others worked to revise the mode to better fit their own contexts. This book also outlines the contemporary value of the georgic literary tradition—two thousand years of writing that begins with the premise that humans must use the world in order to survive and search for a balance between human needs and nature’s productive capacity. In the georgic mode, authors found an adaptable discourse that enabled them to advocate for the protection and responsible use of productive lands, present rural places and people in all of their complexity, explore human relationships with laboring animals, and advertise the sensory pleasures of rooted work.
Ethan Mannon is associate professor of English at Mars Hill University.
List of Tables
Introduction: The Georgic Imagination and At-Home Environmentalism
Chapter One: Recognizing Rural Environmentalism: Unqualifying Frost’s “Pastoral” Poetry
Chapter Two: Expanding the Georgic Mode: Wendell Berry’s Poetry and Fiction
Chapter Three: Preserving Privilege: Willa Cather Critiques the National Parks Movement
Chapter Four: Between Leisure and Industry: Louis Bromfield, Malabar Farm, and Agricultural Economics
Chapter Five: Tangled Manes, Tangled Chains: The Past and Future of Draft Horses
Chapter Six: Sweetness and Stings: Honey Bees at Home
Conclusion: Further Georgics, Existing Fields
About the Author