”När det tar slut och börjar om igen”: Ekokritiska perspektiv på Stefan Castas ungdomsdystopier
The Swedish author Stefan Casta has written several books for children and adults, thematically addressing nature and environment. This paper highlights and discusses ideological and aesthetical aspects in his recent novel, Den gröna cirkeln (2011) and its sequel, Under tiden (2012), from an ecocritical perspective. The novels combine environmental commitment with a dystopian story about four young people who survive a climate catastrophe but get lost in a world they no longer recognize and where ordinary logic does not seem to exist. The paper elucidates this process by a comparison with Buell’s (2001) concept of toxic discourse as there are several parallells, such as elements like a lost paradise, inescapable toxic, and the oppression of powerful societal interests, throughout the story. Simultaneously, ambivalence towards culture and civilization is expressed. Nature and culture become intertwined in a way that differs from the conventional dichotomy and this complexity is the supporting structure of the texts.
The four teenagers, and even more so the following generation, become symbols of a new future, a pattern recognized from much dystopian as well as children’s fiction, where the weak and oppressed turn out to be the heroes. The optimistic and didactic ambition in this kind of dystopian stories is often aimed at creating an engagement for environmental issues and a sustainable future among young people. By placing the story in an imagined future as well as adding fantastic elements, Stefan Casta creates a kind of ”Verfremdungseffekt” on phenomena we often do not question in our lifestyle. This could be a liberating relativization to the young readers; the social and cultural drives that rule many of our life choices are not essential and can therefore always be reconsidered.
Keywords: Ecocriticism, Stefan Casta, dystopian fiction, nature, environment, climate change
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