Graham Swift’s third novel, Waterland (1983), is a sensational tale of murder, incest and suicide set in the desolate Cambridgeshire Fens of East Anglia. Swift incorporates in the novel the area’s well-documented past, legendary and historical, as well as the engineering feats, begun in the seventeenth century, which produced land out of water. The narrator, Tom Crick, and his wife, Mary Metcalf, come of age in a landscape where land must constantly be reclaimed, a setting “embodying”, as Swift notes, “a process of history” (Craps “Interview” 640). Thus, the setting becomes, in Swift’s words, a “landscape of the mind” (Bernard and Menegaldo 10), a symbol of progress and regression, fitting for a work which explores memory, crisis, and trauma, juxtaposing…

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Citation: Logotheti, Anastasia. "Waterland". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 August 2004; last revised 28 May 2019. [, accessed 02 December 2023.]

8699 Waterland 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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