Barthold Heinrich Brockes and Nature Writing

Krause, Frank. 2024. Barthold Heinrich Brockes and Nature Writing. In: Gabriele Dürbeck and Christine Kanz, eds. German-Language Nature Writing from Eighteenth Century to the Present: Controversies, Positions, Perspectives. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 37-57. ISBN 9783031509094 [Book Section]

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Historical studies in search of nature writing in German literature occasionally mention the Early Enlightenment poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes, who presents natural phenomena as manifestations of a purposive order that proves the benevolent design of an almighty Creator. Nature writing also deals with the experience of ethically significant plays of forces that link inner and external nature in dynamics beyond human reach, but it can no longer read nature as a scripture, and it prefers immersion in to a contemplation of nature. This study compares these modes of writing in more detail: Both belong to the genealogy of ethical demands to surpass the limits of instrumental thought through bodily explorations of nature. But whilst Brockes complements instrumental thought with exercitations about the theonomous foundations of human autonomy, nature writing rejects the estrangement of instrumental reason from our bodily belonging to an unwieldy nature, and it thus breaks with the modern aesthetico-religious project to reconcile nature and human needs.

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Book Section

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English and Comparative Literature


12 May 2024Published

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30 Jan 2024 14:01

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17 May 2024 13:58


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