In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

humanities 215 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 preachers, exhorters, missionaries, catechists, teachers, and other religious leaders as well as Tsimshian chiefs and numerous ordinary clan members all occupy primary positions in her analysis. Tsimshian rituals, organizations , beliefs, symbols, and material culture, suitably adapted, screened, and blended with Christianity originating elsewhere, transform into elements of what she calls Tsimshian Christianity. This indigenous form of Christianity reflects undoubted continuity with Christianity throughout the world even as it exhibits significant differences traceable to the particularity of the Tsimshian peoples. Understanding the Tsimshian character of this Christianization has demanded a feat of original historical analysis, and Neylan has risen to the occasion. The changing of the heavens that she depicts is subtle, yet recognizably similar to religious changes throughout the long and varied history of Christianity, including, for instance, the extraordinary case of the Christianization of tens of millions of people in China since 1980. Her accomplishment warrants recommending the book to scholars dealing with subjects and time periods seemingly far removed from the Skeena River in the late nineteenth century. (C.T. MCINTIRE) Kevin Hutchings. Imagining Nature: Blake=s Environmental Politics McGill-Queen=s University Press. xiv, 258. $75.00 Kevin Hutchings=s Imagining Nature, a sophisticated and detailed examination of William Blake=s mediations of nature, is a welcome addition to the growing body of eco-criticism. Indeed, the book signals that >green= criticism is now a part of the mainstream rather than working at the vanguard or margins. This is perhaps a mixed blessing, however, for even as Hutchings continues the work of showing how environmental concerns can inform the production, reception, and interpretation of literature, one also feels here that eco-criticism is in danger of becoming merely a set of interpretive manoeuvres, a methodology of finely tuned moralities that allows one to say new things about old texts. Both for readers very familiar with Blake (for whom the book is primarily intended) and those familiar only with his shorter and more accessible works, Hutchings=s argument is striking. While it may seem obvious that Blake, as a poet who celebrates the power of consciousness, imagination , and symbol over materiality, perception, and the literal, would be hostile to nature as an end in itself, and thus perhaps have little to say about environmental issues, Hutchings successfully undermines this view. He does so by finding in Blake=s relentless dialectics both an acknowledgment of nature=s reality and significance and, more important, a grounding of sorts for an ethical regard for the natural environment. A committed Foucauldian critic, Hutchings argues that because actual material nature is inaccessible to human consciousness, and so is always a matter of 216 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 >discursivity,= all ethical, open representations of it must be self-consciously deconstructing. Accordingly, Hutchings finds everywhere in Blake a >predeconstructive double vision= when it comes to representations of nature. Much of this is very subtle, and it is especially interesting when it points to deep ambiguity in Blake=s contemporaries (such as Newton, for instance), who are also shown to be open to both material and spiritual conceptions of the universe. Hutchings persuasively argues as well how Blake is committed to the doubleness of anthropomorphism, a humanization of the natural world that simultaneously reveals the inherent falseness of this process and incorporates nature into a system of ethical regard. Imagining Nature is certainly an important contribution to Romantic studies, offering highly nuanced and informed readings of difficult poems. And it offers great insight into the problems of representing nature. Yet this work seems to push eco-criticism into a realm of nearly pure theory, in which nature is always-already discourse and symbol. What, after all, do literature or criticism have to offer our understanding of the natural world if we begin with the assumption, as Hutchings clearly does, that in observing animals, trees, or clouds, it is >virtually impossible ... to catch even a fleeting glimpse of something Aother@ than ourselves=? Hutchings=s version of Blake seems to have almost nothing to say about actually being in nature, of perceiving it and...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 215-216
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.