Combining Scales through Affect in the Planetary Global Novel

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Marta Puxan-Oliva


Global novels often struggle with the scaling of human histories to geological histories that help build planetary views. As Dipesh Chakrabarty and Bruno Latour have argued, this scaling understands humans as geological agents, yet proble­matically so. Recently explored by scholars like Marco Caracciolo and Debjani Ganguly, these narrative scaling strategies are yet to be fully drawn. In this chapter I propose that affects can help establish the connections between human individual histories and planetary histories. I explore the affects of unrest, quietness, and presentiment as paradoxical forces in our capacity to predict and anticipate climate change scenarios in Elisabeth Filhol’s novel Doggerland (2019). Relating personal lives and relationships between characters, between characters and place, and between collective and geological histories, the novel reveals the force of pre – sentiment and pre – history memory for anticipating future histories. As Doggerland proposes, affect works as a narrative strategy to address the problem of combining scales in the global novel’s interest for planetarity. 

But the combination of scales through affect can be also considered outside of the text so as to observe the ways in which the global novel’s interest in reaching out to geological histories so as to engage with planetarity manages to combine different forums of reception and circulation which are generally quite apart. In light of the growing interchange of scientifically – based geological history with the affective individual histories in literature, how does this combination impact the circulation of a global novel like Doggerland in the diverse fields of concern about the scientific past and future of our planet? 


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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The Global Novel: Crossing Circulation and Poetics