Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Burning Issue

Tossed the question into the air somewhat flippantly the other day, can novelists change the world?

Robert Mcfarlane writing in the Guardian's Science and Nature pages thinks so:
The authoritative bibliography of American and British nuclear literature runs to over 3,000 items: it includes Ian McEwan's oratorio "Or Shall We Die", JG Ballard's The Terminal Beach, Martin Amis's Einstein's Monsters, Raymond Briggs's When The Wind Blows, as well as work by Edward Abbey, Ray Bradbury, Upton Sinclair, Neville Shute. This literature did not only annotate the politics of the nuclear debate, it helped to shape it. As well as feeding off that epoch of history, it fed into it.
Can writers now steer world opinion about climate change, surely the biggest challenge currently facing us?
It does not yet, with a few exceptions, exist as art. Where are the novels, the plays, the poems, the songs, the libretti, of this massive contemporary anxiety? ... The question is pressing. For an imaginative repertoire is urgently needed by which the causes and consequences of climate change can be debated, sensed, and communicated.
Fortunately, it looks as if there are several novelists prepared to come to the rescue:
... a fortnight ago, I was part of an unorthodox conference, hosted by the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, at which 30 scientists and 30 artists - including McEwan, Philip Pullman, Caryl Churchill and Gretel Ehrlich - were brought together to discuss how art and science might collaborate in fighting climate change.
He adds on a slightly grimmer note:
...it may become hard for writers not to take climate change as their subject.


XMOCHA! said...

novels that change the world... good topic..

My all-time pick is Daniel Quinn's Ishmael.



Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Maybe I should write about THE HAZE. Cough cough ...


bibliobibuli said...

xmocha - wow this looks really interesting - thanks!

animah - cough less write more - then planet needs you