'The Atheist's Bible: Diderot's 'Elements de physiologie' by Caroline Warman is the winner (jointly) of the R. Gapper Book Prize 2021 for best book in French Studies.

Exploring the Interior: Essays on Literary and Cultural History

Exploring the Interior: Essays on Literary and Cultural History Karl S. Guthke
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78374-393-3 £16.95
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It is to be hoped that this book will find a large academic and nonacademic readership as it imparts historical depth as well as a wealth of colorful details to a topic of great current interest.

Prof Monika Fick, Techn.University Aachen, in Lessing Yearbook. 2019.

In this fascinating collection of essays Harvard Emeritus Professor Karl S. Guthke examines the ways in which, for European scholars and writers of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, world-wide geographical exploration led to an exploration of the self. Guthke explains how in the age of Enlightenment and beyond intellectual developments were fuelled by excitement about what Ulrich Im Hof called "the grand opening-up of the wide world”, especially of the interior of the non-European continents. This outward turn was complemented by a fascination with "the world within” as anthropology and ethnology focused on the humanity of the indigenous populations of far-away lands – an interest in human nature that suggested a way for Europeans to understand themselves, encapsulated in Gauguin’s Tahitian rumination "What are we?”

The essays in the first half of the book discuss first- or second-hand, physical or mental encounters with the exotic lands and populations beyond the supposed cradle of civilisation. The works of literature and documents of cultural life featured in these essays bear testimony to the crossing not only of geographical, ethnological, and cultural borders but also of borders of a variety of intellectual activities and interests. The second section examines the growing interest in astronomy and the engagement with imagined worlds in the universe, again with a view to understanding homo sapiens, as compared now to the extra-terrestrials that were confidently assumed to exist. The final group of essays focuses on the exploration of the landscape of what was called "the universe within”; featuring, among a variety of other texts, Schiller’s plays The Maid of Orleans and William Tell, these essays observe and analyse what Erich Heller termed "The Artist’s Journey into the Interior.”

This collection, which travels from the interior of continents to the interior of the mind, is itself a set of explorations that revel in the discovery of what was half-hidden in language. Written by a scholar of international repute, it is eye-opening reading for all those with an interest in the literary and cultural history of (and since) the Enlightenment.

The publication of this volume is supported by a grant from the Anne and Jim Rothenberg Fund for Humanities Research at Harvard University.

Exploring the Interior: Essays on Literary and Cultural History
Karl S. Guthke | May 2018
366 | 1 b&w illustration | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783743933
ISBN Hardback: 9781783743940
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783743957
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783743964
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783743971
ISBN Digital (XML): 9781783745289
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0126
Subject codes: BIC: D (Literature and literary studies), JFCX (History of ideas), 3J (Modern period, c. 1500 onward); BISAC: LIT004130 (LITERARY CRITICISM / European / General), LIT024030 (LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 18th Century); OCLC Number: 1043409881.

You may also be interested in:

Introduction: From the Interior of Continents to the Interior of the Mind

1. Faust and the Cannibals: Geographical Horizons in the Sixteenth Century
2. "Errand into the Wilderness”: The American Careers of Some Cambridge Divines in the Pre-Commonwealth Era
3. At Home in the World: Scholars and Scientists Expanding Horizons
4. In the Wake of Captain Cook: Global versus Humanistic Education in the Age of Goethe
5. Opening Goethe’s Weimar to the World: Travellers from Great Britain and America
6. In a "Far-Off Land”: B. Traven’s Mexican Stories

7. Nightmare and Utopia: Extraterrestrials from Galileo to Goethe
8. Lessing’s Science: Exploring Life in the Universe

9. A Saint with Blood on her Hands: Schiller’s Joan of Arc
10. The Curse of Good Deeds: Schiller’s William Tell
11. Revelation or Deceit? Last Words in Detective Novels
12. Genius and Insanity: Nietzsche’s Collapse as Seen from Paraguay

Selective Bibliography for Further Reading

Karl S. Guthke is the Kuno Francke Research Professor of German Art and Culture at Harvard University.  His main interest is the literary and cultural history of the several German-speaking countries but he has also strayed into history of science and occasionally teaches in the Comparative Literature Department.  His works include Goethes Weimar und "die grosse Öffnung in die weite Welt"; Epitaph Culture in the West; Lessings Horizonte: Grenzen und Grenzenlosigkeit der Toleranz; Schillers Dramen, enlarged edition; Die Erfindung der Welt: Globalität und Grenzen in der Kulturgeschichte der Literatur; Das deutsche bürgerliche Trauerspiel, 6th edition; Die Reise ans Ende der Welt; The Last Frontier: Imagining Other Worlds; The Gender of Death: A Cultural History in Art and Literature; Last Words; B. Traven; "Geistiger Handelsverkehr": Streifzüge im Zeitalter der Weltliteratur, Goethe's Reise nach Spanisch-Amerika: Weltbewohnen in Weimar; Life without End: A Thought Experiment in World Literature from Swift to Houellebecq; Von Heidelberg nach Harvard. He is the translator of H.B. Nisbet, G.E. Lessing.