Ökologische Weltbilder in den Werken Adalbert Stifters - Einheitserfahrung und Herrschaftswille
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It is an undeniable fact that Adalbert Stifter paid detailed attention to his natural surroundings. Yet in the 1980s and 90s Stifter research focused on the author’s use of language: scholars endeavoured to emancipate the text from the intention of the author and to argue that a hermeneutic understanding of the text as a unity of meaning was impossible. More recently, scholars have pointed out the importance of Stifter’s ethical world-view, which insists on an equal treatment of all things. Following on from those arguments, this thesis conducts a reading of Stifter’s works from an ecological point of view and their implication for a good life in accordance with nature. Albert Schweitzer’s "Reverence for Life" and Arne Næss’ Deep Ecology are used as the ethical and philosophical framework. The four discussed works, "Der Hochwald" (1841/ 44), "Bergkristall" (1845/ 53), "Kalkstein" (1848/ 53) and "Der Nachsommer" (1857) show affinities and inconsistencies both between the different texts and within the individual texts themselves. Especially "Der Nachsommer" contradicts itself with its insistence that humans are only an "insertion" in the history of the earth on the one hand and its sympathy for the human desire for domination of the land on the other. Firstly, the thesis shows how the complexity of the ecological imagery in Stifter’s texts reflects the intricacy of a nineteenth-century perception of the world. The enthusiastic conquest of nature and the desire to reorder nature exists simultaneously with the scientific questioning of the subjective world-view. This questioning of a subjective perception of the world is secondly linked to the ecological imagery in Stifter’s work. His idiosyncratic language gives life to all things. This language, which I call an ecocentric narrative style, can be retraced in all his works, even in "Nachsommer". Consequently, the experience of the sublime is shifted into an ecological sublime. The perception of the immensity of nature and one’s own insignificance is not to be overcome by reason, but is instead a comforting realisation of one’s own relationship to and oneness with the entirety of the natural world.