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'This Is The Hell That I Have Heard Of' : Some Dialectical Images in Fossil Fuel Fiction

  • Andreas Malm
Publishing year: 2017-04-11
Language: English
Pages: 121-141
Publication/Series: Forum for Modern Language Studies
Volume: 53
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract english

How can the realities of global warming be made visible in literary texts? After the rise of 'cli-fi', it might be time to return to a trove of literature written long before the discoveries of climate science: fiction about fossil fuels. It is filled with premonitions of disasters, such as extreme heat and terrible storms. Focusing on two texts - Ghassan Kanafani's Men in the Sun and Joseph Conrad's Typhoon - this essay makes a case for developing 'dialectical images', in Walter Benjamin's sense of the term, from fossil fuel fiction. Such images might contribute to a critical understanding of our current epoch, fracturing the narrative of the human species as a united entity ascending to biospheric dominance in the Anthropocene. The miseries of global warming have been in preparation for a long time. Some have felt the heat from the start.


  • Social and Economic Geography
  • Dialectical image
  • Ecocriticism
  • Fossil fuel fiction
  • Ghassan Kanafani
  • Global warming
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Material allegory
  • Walter Benjamin


  • ISSN: 0015-8518
E-mail: andreas [dot] malm [at] hek [dot] lu [dot] se

Associate senior lecturer

Human Ecology


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and the Human Ecology Division

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