Nature's Domination over Man in Waterland

Andrew Frumovitz (EL 32, 1990)

The following quotation from a linkage with "Science and Technology" can be directly related to a passage from the novel:
According to Jordan, "The eotechnical epoch - the [eighteenth-century] industrial revolution of wood and wind - was concentrated upon the newly drained fens and fertile East Anglian flats, while the big, slow, smug rivers, like the Trent and the Ouse, were busy with sailing barges.

The above scientific, factual excerpt applies directly to the concept of natural power and circular history in Waterland , as nature dominates the human existence, forever marking the struggle of mankind:

The Ouse flows on, unconcerned with ambition, whether local or national. It flows now in more than one channel, its waters diverging, its strength divided, silt-prone. Yet it flows-oozes-on, as every river must, to the sea. And, as we all know, the sun and the wind suck up the water from the sea and disperse it on the land, perpetually refeeding the rivers. So that while the Ouse flows to the sea, it flows, in reality, like all rivers, only back to itself, to its own source; and that impression that a river moves only one was is an illusion.

It is this same realization of revolving history that Tom seeks to instill in his students with his stories. Tom sees a fight against time's linear inevitability unconquerable, but man in Tom's eyes can find peace in understanding the greater, singular historical picture.

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