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The Great Derangement
Climate Change and the Unthinkable

 

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The Great Derangement
Climate Change and the Unthinkable

by Amitav Ghosh (Author)

 

Hardback

ISBN: 9780226323039

 

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The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh (Hardback) (ISBN: 9780226323039)

"A short but broad-ranging and consistently stimulating indictment of our era of the ‘great derangement.’ . . . The Great Derangement is a bracing reminder that there is no more vital task for writers and artists than to clear the intellectual dead wood of a vulgarly boosterish age and create space for apocalyptic thinking – which may at least delay, if not avert, the catastrophes ahead."The Guardian

"In his first work of long-form nonfiction in over 20 years, celebrated novelist Ghosh ‘perhaps the most important question ever to confront culture’: how can writers, scholars, and policy makers combat the collective inability to grasp the dangers of today’s climate crisis? Ghosh’s choice of genre is hardly incidental; among the chief sources of the ‘imaginative and cultural failure that lies at the heart of the climate crisis,’ he argues, is the resistance of modern linguistic and narrative traditions—particularly the 20th-century novel—to events so cataclysmic and heretofore improbable that they exceed the purview of serious literary fiction. . . . In this concise and utterly enlightening volume, Ghosh urges the public to find new artistic and political frameworks to understand and reduce the effects of human-caused climate change, sharing his own visionary perspective as a novelist, scholar, and citizen of our imperiled world." Publishers Weekly

"The exciting and frightening thing about Ghosh’s argument is how he traces the novel’s narrow compass back to popular and influential scientific ideas—ideas that championed uniform and gradual processes over cataclysms and catastrophes. One big complaint about science —that it kills wonder—is the same criticism Ghosh levels at the novel: that it bequeaths us ‘a world of few surprises, fewer adventures, and no miracles at all.’ Lawfulness in biology is rather like realism in fiction: it is a convention so useful that we forget that it is a convention. But, if anthropogenic climate change and the gathering sixth mass extinction event have taught us anything, it is that the world is wilder than the laws we are used to would predict. Indeed, if the world really were in a novel—or even in a book of popular science—no one would believe it." New Scientist

"The Great Derangement . . . begins with a simple question—why have the arts (literature and fiction in particular) been unable and unwilling to grapple with the greatest crisis facing the planet, anthropogenic climate change?—and runs in thrillingly unpredictable directions with it. . . . The Great Derangement bristles with trenchant and dense ideas, expressed with exemplary lucidity and finesse. At a time when the idea of the engagé intellectual is not just unfashionable, but in full-blown retreat, here is a book that triumphantly ­announces its return." New Statesman

Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? In his first major book of nonfiction since In an Antique Land, Ghosh examines our inability—at the level of literature, history, and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change.

The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, make them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements.

Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence—a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.

Amitav Ghosh is an award-winning novelist and essayist whose books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and the Ibis Trilogy: Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire.



"A short but broad-ranging and consistently stimulating indictment of our era of the ‘great derangement.’ . . . The Great Derangement is a bracing reminder that there is no more vital task for writers and artists than to clear the intellectual dead wood of a vulgarly boosterish age and create space for apocalyptic thinking – which may at least delay, if not avert, the catastrophes ahead."The Guardian

 

ISBN 22632303
ISBN13 9780226323039
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Format Hardback
Publication date 09/09/2016
Pages 176
Weight (grammes) 751.00
Published in United States
Height (mm) 216
Width (mm) 140
Amitav Ghosh is an award-winning novelist and essayist whose books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and the Ibis Trilogy: Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire.