Inger Christensen / Novalis / Philosophy of Nature

Silje; Anne; Klaus Svare; Gry Haugland; Müller-Will


The Danish poet and essayist Inger Christensen (1935–2009) has been labelled a modernist, a postmodernist, an experimentalist, and an exponent of systematic poetry. However, all through her works runs her preoccupation with early German romanticism, the philosophical and poetological writings of Novalis in particular. Christensen’s complex relationship with Novalis has so far received little scholarly attention. The aim of this tripartite article is to fill this lacuna by shedding light on the various ways in which Christensen engages with Novalis and renegotiates his romantic heritage. Central to Christensen’s poetics is a concept derived from Novalis: hemmelighedstilstanden [the state of secrecy]. Reading this concept in conjunction with the contemporary German-Austrian poet Peter Waterhouse’s corresponding concept of Geheimnislosigkeit [literally: secretlessness], Silje Ingeborg Harr Svare explores Christensen’s renegotiation of Novalis’s philosophy of subjectivity and language. Anne Gry Haugland addresses the complex and radical philosophy of nature that resonates throughout Christensen’s works. While this philosophy of nature is indebted to German romantic Naturphilosophie, it is also informed by recent developments in the natural sciences: drawing on concepts in contemporary science such as biosemiotics, scalar ratios, and self-organizing systems – Haugland outlines the scientific context for Christensen’s philosophy of nature. Finally, Klaus Müller Wille explores the relationship between Christensen’s long poem det [It] and Novalis’s unfinished philosophical novel Die Lehrlinge zu Sais [The disciples of Sais], showing that det is informed by Novalis’s fragment on a structural, a diegetic, a rhetorical, and a conceptual level.


Early German Romanticism; Poetics; Subjectivity; Peter Waterhouse; Philosophy of Nature; Science; Biosemiotics; Semiotics

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ISSN: 2246-2945  

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