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