The Comedy of Survival [2nd ed.]

Table of contents :
p. 8 preface
p.13 foreword by Konrad Z. Lorenz
p.19 introductino by Paul Shepard
p.24 an Introduction to Literary Ecology
p.35 The comic mode
p.50 Literaray tragedy and ecological catastrophe
p.64 Hamlet & the animals
p.78 the pastoral & the picaresque
p.105 ecological esthetics
p.118 ingredients for an environmental ethic
p.136 the comedy of dante's comedy
p.151 the Sky Within The Earth
p.159 Reference Notes
p.165 Suggested Readings
p.172 Index

Citation preview



Bro Bro33.




Joseph W. Meeker



Nature, mind and art are together at the center of Joe Meeker' s professional life. His nature studies have included g_raduatework in wildlife ecology, scientific research and publicauon, and work as a ranger at National Parks in Alaska, Oregon and Calif~rnia. Mind and art have corne together for him through h1s Ph.D. degree in comparative literature, bis sixteen year~ as a professor of literature and philosophy, and bis four pubhshed books and some twenty-five journal articles. His favored discipline is interdisciplinary study, bringing synthesis to the fragmented knowledge produced by academic specializations. Joe is a skilled communicator. He bas held professional posts in radio and television broadcasting and bas been successful as a writer, producer, and studio performer for local and national programming in the United States and Canada. He bas travelled extensively in North America, Europe, and the Orient as a lecturer and consultant to academic, government, and corporate institutions. He prizes persona! communication as highly as the public kind; he is a good friend to many people. Wholeness is what he seeks for himself and for others, including other species. The healthy compatibility of nature, mind and art is the goal that gives energy to Joe Meeker's life. Now he is Director of The Strong Center in Berkeley, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the integration of human and non-human nature. There he offers leadership towards a new and deeper approach to env~ronmental thinki~g_,_emphasizing inner renewal of persona! v1ews and the acqu1smon of global perspectives. He believes in the potential compatibility of humanity and nature.

International College - "the College that's reviving the tutor-student tradition" - was founded in 1970 as a viable alternative to traditional higher education. Over 150 tutors, many of them world-renowned, enga~e in the learning process with scudents on a one-to-one or small-group bas1s. For information, write to International College, 1019 Gayley Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90024, or call (213) 477-6761. Guild of Tutors Press is the publishing arm of International College. See page 176 for other books published by the Guild of Tutors Press. The New Natural


Modern life calls with increasing intensity for new and healthier relationships between human life and the processes of nature. In 1978, International College inaugurated a curriculum in The New Nacural Philosophy in response co this need. The program is designed to integrate the humanities and the natural sciences for teaching and research toward a reunion of human culture and natural environments. The Guild of Tutors Press offers this book as one more addition to its publications in The New Natural Philosophy. This continuing series will seek out original thinkers in The New Natural Philosophy and publish rhem in low-cost editions as contributions roward integrated thinking about humanity and nature.


The Comedy of Survival ln Searchof an EnvironmentalEthic

Joseph W. Meeker





The Comedy of .survival. Copyright© 1~72, 1~7~, 1974, 1980 by Jose h Meeker. Copyright © 1972 by Canad1an F1ct1on Magazine. Ail P. W. reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this ho krights • .:-:1.... • o may be used or repro duce d in any manner ·wuatsoever w1thout writte mission except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles or ren _per. . 'Id o f T utors Press, lnternat10nal . v1ews. For mformauon, address: Gui Coll 1019 Gayley Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90024. (213/477-6761tge,

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Library of Congress Catalog Number 79-54815 ISBN 0-89615-048-8

Charles Scribner's Sons edition (cloth), 1974. Guild of Tutors edition (paperback), 1980.

Designed by Paul O. Proehl

Graceful acknowledgmenc is made for permission co reprint brief extracts from the following: John D. Sinclair's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, published by The Bodley Head, London; and from Rolfe Humphries' translation of The Satires of Juvenal, published by the Indiana University Press. Extracts are reprinted from Oed~pttI the King, translation by David Grene (David Grene and Ric~m 0nd Lammore, editors), from Antigone, translation by E. Wyckoff (Grene and Lammore, ) · · f the . ed t~ors '. and from The lliad, translation by Lattimore, by perm1sst0n U nivermy of Chicago Press.