Born OTD in 1946, English writer and novelist, Jim Crace. Harvest tells the story of a remote English village as economic progress disrupts pastoral idyll following the Enclosure Act. The protagonist, Walter Thirsk, tells the story from his perspective, but in fact is rarely present when the events of the novel take place due to his injury that he sustains at the beginning of the novel. The story begins with the arrival of some strangers to the bounds of the village. Following the burning of the stables, a scapegoat is required as no-one wants to admit that one of their own was responsible. Hence a mob sets out in order to find evidence to blame these new arrivals. After a brief altercation with the three strangers, they are arrested by Master Kent and chained to the pillory for the week.

Harvest

Throughout the novel the certainty of the land, the “busy, kindly, scented universe of crops and the unerring traces of its calendar”, is set against the human urge to shape the world into stories, to guess and theorise and surmise. Stories grounded in the landscape also loom large, in customs such as choosing the gleaning queen when the harvest is brought in, or bumping heads against boundary stones to affirm the limits of the local world. What will change with enclosure is that sense of balance: “This land,” Master Kent says, “has always been much older than ourselves … Not any more.” The environmental crisis we are facing now is on a global as well as a local level. Harvest can be read in mythical, even biblical terms, but the physical and emotional displacement of individuals and communities at its heart remains as politically resonant today as it was at the time.

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