The ecological voice in recent German-Swiss prose
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This thesis seeks to investigate the ecological theme in German-Swiss prose of the last thirty years. The role of nature has understandably always been significant in Swiss literature. In a nation that has eked out its living, in such an impressive and violent landscape, there is of necessity a highly developed awareness of the environment. Furthermore, the close relationship between mankind and the environment is inherently ambiguous, with each acting alternately as curse and blessing to the other. The bond between people and geography is made all the more vital in the Alps, where existence is under the constant threat of avalanches and landslides. In light of this heightened environmental sensibility, it is unsurprising that, with the growing profile of ecological debate in general, Swiss writers should demonstrate an acute cognisance of the significance of ecological problems. The notion of an ecological voice takes the discussion further. The question is posed whether these works merely represent a reflection of societal concern for the environment, or whether literary responses may constitute solutions. This investigation therefore contributes both to literary criticism on Swiss writing and to the understanding of the role of conceptualisation in finding solutions to ecological problems. To explore and analyse these ideas, this thesis considers a representatively broad spectrum of differing responses to ecological crisis. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of recent Swiss ‘Öko-Literatur’, but instead to be an investigation of the variety of narrative strategies employed in this period of growing ecological awareness.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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