Based on a variety of close readings, this book analyzes the use of ice and snow motifs in selected literary, scientific, and philosophical texts by a wide range of European authors from Johannes Kepler to Thomas Mann. The focus of the book is on German literature. While the metaphorical significance of cold imagery has been studied by various scholars, the close relationship between figurations of the cold and writing or reading has so far been overlooked. Compared with other instances of «reading the book of nature», stars or stones for example, the unstable status of snow or ice configurations also renders their literary representation problematic. This inherent tension accounts for the attraction snow and ice have exerted on authors to this day. Particular attention is paid to those texts that negotiate the close rapport between the fragile literary object and the fragile status of language and readability, thus exposing the «fragile legibility» of snow and ice motifs. This focus allows us to address more general issues, such as the shifting status of the aesthetic at the intersection of older natural history and the emergence of modern science; the apocalyptic; and the melancholic implications of cold imagery.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2007. 228 pp.
Contents: German Literature – Literature and Science – Snow and Ice Configurations – Liminality – Transience – Melancholia
– Organic vs. Inorganic Nature – Representations of Winter – Authors treated: Goethe, Thomas Mann, L. Tieck, Brockes, Felix
Braun, George, Rilke, Robert Walser, Kepler, Descartes, Robert Hooke, Bentley, Kant, Stifter, Georg Hermann, Kafka, Capek,
Hebbel, Keller, C.F. Meyer, Max Dauthenday and Saint-John Perse.