In order to understand Earth’s increasingly unpredictable climate, we must accept natural chaos and anthropogenic disturbance as a key component of our ecological and social future. Just as Heidi C.M. Scott’s Chaos and Cosmos (2014) powerfully demonstrates that a postmodern view of chaotic nature is shown to have been harbouring Romantic and Victorian literary foundations, this article further suggests that chaos ecology also has its roots in the Gothic. Drawing on Algernon Blackwood’s collection Pan’s Garden: A Volume of Nature Stories (1912), it tentatively begins to unearth some of the ways in which ‘walking with Pan’ could be anticipatory of ecological concepts recognised today. By rereading transcendental Pan from the context of a ‘Gothic ecology’, it explores how Blackwood transforms nature into a supernaturally powerful, inviting and terrifying character. In doing so, it becomes clear that disturbing Pan’s garden may have far greater consequences for Blackwood’s human wayfarers than for nature itself.
Michelle Poland is a full-time doctoral student researching a thesis on the ‘Ecogothic Imagination’ at the University of Lincoln. She is Membership Secretary to the Tennyson Society and a Postgraduate Representative on the executive committee of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, UK and Ireland.