Although the British romantic poets—notably, Blake, Wordsworth, and Byron—have been the subjects of previous ecocritical examinations, Kate Rigby’s Topographies of the Sacred is the first book to compare English and German literary models of romanticism. Rigby treats not only canonical British romantics but an array of major figures in Continental literature, philosophy, and natural history, including Rousseau, Herder, Goethe, Schelling, Schiller, and Alexander von Humboldt. Following the pioneering work of Jonathan Bate and Karl Kroeber, she probes romantic understandings of nature, the source of the sacred, the power of place, and the role of literature, with a view to uncovering the tensions and ambivalences within the European romantic tradition. The result is a synthetic and philosophically inflected study that looks at the literary and ecological significance of place within a broad cultural context.
Kate Rigby, Senior Lecturer in German Studies and Comparative Literature at Monash University, Australia, is the author of Transgressions of the Feminine: Tragedy, Enlightenment, and the Figure of Woman in Classical German Drama.