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Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters
An original and highly unusual psycholinguistic study of American literature and culture from 1584 to 1860, this volume focuses on the metaphor of 'land-as-woman.' It is the first systematic documentation of the recurrent responses to the American continent as a feminine entity (as Mother, as Virgin, as Temptress, as the Ravished), and it is also the first systematic inqui ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 27th 1984 by University of North Carolina Press
(first published January 1st 1975)
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I certainly need to go back through this book slowly at some point. I really enjoyed Kolodny's ecofeminist approach to our relationship with America (as land and nature). As she says, “Colonization brought with it an inevitable paradox: the success of settlement depended on the ability to master the land, transforming the virgin territories into something else—a farm, a village, a road, a canal, a railway, a mine, a factory, a city, and finally, an urban nation.”
Dec 22, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it · review of another edition
This is a seminal work and is useful for historians largely because of its introduction. Kolodny traces the way in which the land was feminized in American literature and why this line of metaphors was useful to early Americans. The body of the text is also interesting, but the details are likely more relevant for those coming from an ecocritism background.
“In fact, the advocates of People's Park had asserted another version of what is probably America's oldest and most cherished fantasy: a daily reality of harmony between man and nature based on an experience of the land land as essentially feminine - that is not simply the land as mother, but the land as woman, the total female principle of gratification - enclosing the individual in an environment of receptivity, repose, and painless and integral satisfaction.”More quotes…