Gardening the Planet: Literature and the Reimagining of Human/Nature Relations for the Anthropocene




garden writing, human/nature relations, the Anthropocene, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Michael Pollan


Gardening as an activity characterised by attentiveness to nature and willingness to adapt to and care for it, and the idea of gardening the planet are attracting growing interest in the context of debates on the Anthropocene. Garden writing exists in forms ranging from autobiographically framed essays describing plants and their care to prose fiction and even poetry. This article is concerned with its contribution to reimagining human/nature relations in a way which is particularly relevant in the Anthropocene: homo hortensis is a conception of humanity as an integral part of nature, dwelling actively in it and enhancing it rather than consuming or destroying it. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Julie or the New Heloise (1761) and Adalbert Stifter’s Indian Summer (1857–9) are examined as Early Anthropocene novels which anticipate through the gardens they depict aspects of Anthropocene thinking which find more explicit formulation in Michael Pollan’s work of nonfiction garden writing, Second Nature (1991).


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Author Biography

Axel Goodbody, University of Bath

Axel Goodbody is Emeritus Professor of German and European Culture at the University of Bath. He studied German and French at Trinity College, Dublin. After a period teaching English language and culture as Lektor at the University of Kiel (Germany), he completed a doctorate on German nature poetry (Romantic and 20th-century). He taught at the University of Bath, UK from 1983 to 2017. His main research interests are environmental discourse, ecocritical theory, climate fiction, narratives of energy, and modern and contemporary German environmental fiction and poetry. He was a founding member of EASLCE and its first President, and Associate Editor of Ecozon@ from 2010 to 2020. He edits the Brill/ Rodopi book series 'Nature, Literature and Culture'.






Articles: Gardening (against) the Anthropocene