Time, Extinction and Accumulation: Reading Henrietta Rose-Innes’s Green Lion

Part of the New Comparisons in World Literature book series (NCWL)


This chapter offers a reading of Green Lion, a novel by contemporary South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes. The novel deals with pressing issues in world-ecology, revealing dialectical interconnections between historical processes of extinction, conservation and the commodification of natural forms. The story revolves around the project to revive an extinct native species, the dark-maned Cape lion, through a breeding programme in Cape Town zoo. The project, however, is destined to fail and living lions are in the end replaced by a taxidermy collection. The failures of conservation, however, do not exhaust Rose-Innes’s narrative, which also presents non-synchronic temporalities—anticipatory, utopian and mystical—driving the clandestine activities of the Green Lion, a secret society of animal lovers.

Works Cited

  1. Bakhtin, Mikhail M. 2002. Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel: Notes Toward a Historical Poetics. In Brian Richardson, ed. Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 15–24.Google Scholar
  2. Bloch, Ernst. 1959. The Principle of Hope, vol. 1. Trans. Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice, and Paul Knight. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.Google Scholar
  3. Bromley, Daniel W. 1994. The Enclosure Movement Revisited: The South African Commons. Journal of Economic Issues 28.2: 357–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Büscher, Bram, and Robert Fletcher. 2015. Accumulation by Conservation. New Political Economy 20.2: 273–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Christiansen, Per. 2008. On the Distinctiveness of the Cape Lion (Panthera leo melanochaita Smith, 1842), and a Possible New Specimen from the Zoological Museum, Copenhagen. Mammalian Biology 73: 58–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dawson, Ashley. 2016. Extinction: A Radical History. New York: OR Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. De Angelis, Massimo, and David Harvie. 2014. The Commons. In M. Parker, G. Cheney, V. Fournier, and C. Land, eds. The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organizations. Abington: Routledge, 280–294.Google Scholar
  8. Deckard, Sharae. 2016. World-Ecology and Ireland. Journal of World-Systems Research 22.1: 145–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eagleton, Terry. 2015. Hope Without Optimism. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Evans, Sara. 2018. When the Last Lion Roars: The Rise and Fall of the King of the Beasts. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  11. Foster, John Bellamy. 1999. Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift: Classical Foundations for Environmental Sociology. AJS 105.2: 366–405.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2007. The Ecology of Destruction. Monthly Review 58.9: 1–14.Google Scholar
  13. ———. 2018. Marx, Value, and Nature. Monthly Review 70.3: 122–136.Google Scholar
  14. ———, and Paul Burkett. 2018. Value Isn’t Everything. Monthly Review 70.6: 1–17.Google Scholar
  15. Fowler, Don P. 1991. Narrate and Describe: The Problem of Ekphrasis. The Journal of Roman Studies 81: 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Heffernan, James A.W. 1991. Ekphrasis and Representation. New Literary History 22.2: 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heise, Ursula K. 2016. Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jolly, Penny H. 1983. Antonello da Messina’s Saint Jerome in His Study: An Iconographic Analysis. The Art Bulletin 65.2: 238–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kolbert, Elizabeth. 2014. The Sixth Extinction. An Unnatural History. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  20. Linebaugh, Peter. 2014. Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance. Oakland: PM Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lukács, Georg. 1970. The Writer and the Critic. Trans. Arthur Kahn. London: Merlin.Google Scholar
  22. Marx, Karl. 1963. The Poverty of Philosophy. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 1993. Grundrisse. Trans. Martin Nicolaus. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  24. Massumi, Brian. 2018. 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  25. McBrien, Justin. 2016. Accumulating Extinction: Planetary Catastrophism in the Necrocene. In Jason W. Moore, ed. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Oakland: PM Press, 116–137.Google Scholar
  26. McCauley, Douglas J. 2006. Selling Out on Nature. Nature 443.7107: 27–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Menozzi, Filippo. 2013. Invasive Species and the Territorial Machine: Shifting Interfaces Between Ecology and the Postcolonial. Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 44.4: 181–204.Google Scholar
  28. Mészáros, István. 2008. The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  29. Midnight Notes Collective. 1990. Introduction to the New Enclosures. Accessed 1 August 2019.
  30. Mitchell, W.J.T. 1994. Picture Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  31. Moore, Jason W. 2017. Capitalism in the Web of Life. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  32. Mukherjee, Pablo. 2010. Postcolonial Environments. Nature, Culture and the Contemporary Indian Novel in English. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  33. Riach, Graham. 2018. Henrietta Rose-Innes and the Politics of Space. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature.Google Scholar
  34. Rose-Innes, Henrietta. 2010. Homing. Cape Town: Penguin Random House.Google Scholar
  35. ———. 2011. Nineveh. Cape Town: Penguin Random House.Google Scholar
  36. ———. 2015. Green Lion. London: Aardvark Bureau.Google Scholar
  37. Schmitt, Cannon. 2016. Interpret or Describe? Representations 135.1: 102–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sloterdijk, Peter. 2014. Museum—School of Alienation. Trans. Iain Boyd Whyte. Art in Translation 6.4: 437–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Williams, Daniel. 2018. Life Among the Vermin: Nineveh and Ecological Relocation. Studies in the Novel 50.3: 419–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zipes, Jack. 2019. Ernst Bloch: The Pugnacious Philosopher of Hope. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations