Nature Writing. Zur Brauchbarkeit eines neuen Gattungsbegriffs für das Verständnis von Sebalds Prosa am Beispiel des Essays Die Alpen im Meer

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In an attempt to clarify whether the concept of Nature Writing can contribute to a new understanding of W. G. Sebald’s prose works, the present article explores Sebald’s essay Die Alpen im Meer, published in 2001, in which the author records impressions of his visit to the island of Corsica some years earlier. The article concludes that this work cannot unreservedly be considered a “Naturessay” (as defined by Simone Schröder 2018), for two major reasons. One is that the essay is a semi-fictional text in which Sebald attempts to prove his thesis about “man’s guilt in nature’s wholesale destruction” by falsifying sources in numerous instances. A second reason is that, instead of describing nature, he uses an allegorical way of writing, offering the reader a miscellany of poetical emblems. These emblems, by allowing fragmentary glimpses of the loss of nature, tell the story of its destruction while at the same time inviting us to wonder where guilt-laden man is going.
Original languageGerman
Title of host publicationDeutschsprachiges Nature Writing von Goethe bis zur Gegenwart : Kontroversen, Positionen, Perspektiven
EditorsGabriele Dürbeck, Christine Kanz
Number of pages16
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherJ.B. Metzler
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-662-62212-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-662-62213-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020