Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance

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University of Pennsylvania Press, Dec 5, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 436 pages
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Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title

Sweeping across scholarly disciplines, Back to Nature shows that, from the moment of their conception, modern ecological and epistemological anxieties were conjoined twins. Urbanization, capitalism, Protestantism, colonialism, revived Skepticism, empirical science, and optical technologies conspired to alienate people from both the earth and reality itself in the seventeenth century. Literary and visual arts explored the resulting cultural wounds, expressing the pain and proposing some ingenious cures. The stakes, Robert N. Watson demonstrates, were huge.

Shakespeare's comedies, Marvell's pastoral lyrics, Traherne's visionary Centuries, and Dutch painting all illuminate a fierce submerged debate about what love of nature has to do with perception of reality.

 

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Review: Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance

User Review  - Patricia - Goodreads

Watson manages to take on difficult ideas without being impenetrable. His comments on the present urgency to attend to ecological issues was convincing and deepened the book rather than making it anachronistic. The chapter on Merchant of Venice was especially illuminating. Read full review

Contents

Ecology Epistemology and Empiricism
3
Theology Semiotics and Literature
36
Paradoxes Alienation from Nature in English Literature
75
As You Liken It Simile in the Forest
77
Shades of Green Marvells Garden and the Mowers
108
Reformations Protestant Politics Poetics and Paintings
135
Metaphysical and Cavalier Styles of Consciousness
137
The Retreat of God the Passions of Nature and the Objects of Dutch Painting
166
Solutions The Consolations of Mediation
255
Metal and Flesh in The Merchant of Venice Shining Substitutes and Approximate Values
257
Thomas Traherne The World as Present
297
Conclusion
324
Notes
337
Bibliography
397
Index
419
Acknowledgments
437

Nature in Two Dimensions Perspective and Presence in Ryckaert Vermeer and Others
226

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About the author (2007)

Robert N. Watson is Professor of English and Associate Vice-Provost for Educational Innovation at the University of California, Los Angeles. His previous books include The Rest Is Silence: Death as Annihilation in the English Renaissance, Ben Jonson's Parodic Strategy: Literary Imperialism in the Comedies, and Shakespeare and the Hazards of Ambition.

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