Monday, 15 August 2011

Pastoral and Eros

Renato Poggioli's The Oaten Flute: Essays on Pastoral Poetry and the Pastoral Ideal (Harvard Univ. Press 1975) makes a number of claims about the pastoral mode, not least that Pastoral is fundamentally ‘a double longing after innocence of happiness … the wishful dream of a happiness to be gained without effort, of an erotic bliss made absolute by its own irresponsiblility’ [14]. This focus on the erotic is interesting (‘happiness means in pastoral terms always one and the same thing: the fulfilment of the passion of love, the consummation of man’s erotic wishes’ [42]). Is this true, though? Or is it a reductive account of the possibility of human pleasure in nature?

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