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Environmental and ecological readings

Philippe Laplace

Part II. Nature, the Environment and the Posthuman: Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

The Hieroglyphic of Raindrops: Reading the Signs of Nature in The Warlock of Strathearn by Christopher Whyte

Robin M. J. MacKenzie

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The ecological turn in twentieth-century Scottish literature has attracted a deal of critical attention over the last decade or so, most notably with the publication of Louisa Gairn’s impressive study, Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature. Gairn discusses a number of writers from an ecocritical perspective, from Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Edwin Muir to John Burnside and Kathleen Jamie. Among the writers she does not mention is Christopher Whyte, better known perhaps for his critical and imaginative engagement with issues of gender and sexuality than for a concern with ecological themes. In this article I would like to argue that in his second novel, The Warlock of Strathearn, Whyte explores precisely those things Crawford cites as constitutive of ‘the landscape of the ecological’ – ‘people, creatures, landscape’ and even (tangentially) ‘crops’ – as well as the possibility of a balanced co-existence between them.

If we concur with Jonathan Bate that ‘the role of ecopoesis […] is to en...


Taught for many years at the University of Swansea and is now Honorary Lecturer in the School of Modern Languages at St Andrews University. He has published a number of articles on modern (post-1850) French fiction, mainly on the work of Marcel Proust. His current research interests lie in comparative literature: recent publications include articles on Proust as reader of Stevenson, and on ecological themes in novels by Lawrence Norfolk and Christoph Ransmayr.

© Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 2015

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