chapter  4
Landscape as palimpsest
East Anglia in British “new nature writing”
ByKatie Ritson
Pages 20

This chapter is an examination of a current British upsurge of environmental prose writing known as new British nature writing. In my ecocritical analysis, I examine the characteristics of this new, hybrid genre and the reasons for its appeal, using examples of texts written about the East Anglian lowlands by Robert Macfarlane, Richard Mabey, Helen Macdonald, and Mark Cocker. A close reading of two short prose texts by Robert Macfarlane, “Ghost Species” and “Silt,” show how this kind of text is responding to a threatened landscape by attempting to give new expression to the human relationship with the natural world. I argue that new nature writing is responding to the vulnerabilities of the Anthropocene. Its use of palimpsest expresses a complex and multifaceted relationship between humans and their environment and projects our imagination of the past onto an unknown future.