As we have stated before, we believe literature to also be a political object, and a great means of conveying political engagement for the greater good. Which is why Beyond Words Festival will have a decided environmentalist strand.
Three of our authors have in common their interrogations about human nature, its limits, and the role man should play in an environment that, as a species, he has been conditioned to think he dominated. In their perspective, ecology is about a way of life that would promote the mutually-fruitful coexistence of different species and adaptation of our lifestyle to allow for the growth and preservation of nature
In To Leave with the Reindeer, Olivia Rosenthal questions the relation between man and animal and the various instincts and basic needs we have learnt to repress, while intertwining her narration with fragments from interviews and conversations with zoologists, zoo keepers, vets, and an array of scientists and activists fighting for the recognition of animal rights. Rosenthal herself is part of the « Parlement sensible », created in 2015 during the COP 21 summit. Alongside writers such as Philippe Claudel, Agnès Desarthe, Boualem Sansal or Erri de Luca, she pushes for a type of literature that would question the Cartesian rule of man over nature and has also spoken about the possibility of ecofeminism. “You are just like the animals, all those animals that we imprison, that we breed, that we protect, that we eat. And neither the animals nor you know how to find freedom. And yet you must.” (To Leave with the Reindeer). Her event will be feminism-oriented (http://beyondwordslitfest.co.uk/daughters-of-de-beauvoir-1-the-feminist-era/) .
Pierre Ducrozet has dedicated his novel L’invention des corps (shortlisted for the Prix du roman d’écologie 2018) to transhumanism. The author strived to question the core of human nature in a century marked by globalisation and the emergence of new means of communication. Ducrozet has been an ecology activist for a few years, and has been involved in attempts to spread awareness amongst younger generations. In January of 2019, he had a full editorial in Libération, in which he advocated for the convergence of the feminist, environmental and democratic fights, arguing for an ecofeminist movement : «The two revolutions of the century are coming together: it is mostly women who take over this fight for the planet. That is of course no coincidence: it is the world of oil and paternalism, the world of patriarchy and capital walking hand in hand, who threw us out there.”
Finally, French writer and vegan activist Jean-Baptiste Del Amo, will discuss his novels and activist engagement. His latest novel Animalia describes the hardships of pig farming (https://fitzcarraldoeditions.com/books/animalia), insisting on the organic familiarity between man and animal. As an activist, he has also written a book about influential French association L214 (https://www.arthaud.fr/Catalogue/la-traversee-des-mondes/l214), which opposes meat-eating and seeks to denounce the meat, dairy, and eggs industries. According to Del Amo, his aim with this book was to strive and show how the determination of a few activists was enough to make a wider audience open its eyes and to encourage change amongst politicians and lobbies. To him, the vegan movement can be compared to a second Copernican revolution, as Man discovers, and hopefully accepts, that his superior claim over nature and animal life is fallacious.
We are looking forwards to engaging with you on those burning issues !