The Lessons of Selborne:
Gilbert White’s Ruminations on Nature, Humans and the World
Keywords:Gilbert White, natural philosophy, economy of nature, ecocriticism
The following paper analyses a classic work of 18th century nature writing, Gilbert White’s (1720–1793) Natural History of Selborne (1789). It contextualizes the work in the cultural and philosophical discussions of its era, and stresses White’s “economy of nature” as a continuum of spiritual, aesthetic, and economic dimensions of nature. The essay argues that this complexity presents the English naturalist’s unique contribution to the rise of nature writing and ecological thought during the emergence of Romanticism. The final discussion here deals with the reception of White’s work beginning in the late 1960s and its significance within the ecocritical debates of our day.
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