"Der Bleistift roch nach Rosmarin": The Art of Foraging In Stifter, Handke, and Beuys

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Taking as its starting point the notion of reading as gathering, implied by the word Lesen, this essay examines some correspondences between foraging, naming, writing, drawing, and reading to establish a clear distinction between foraging and collecting more generally. By way of example, three kinds of foraging are addressed: berry picking, in Adalbert Stifter's short story Der Waldsteig; mushroom collecting, in Peter Handke's fairy-tale Lucie im Wald mit den Dingsda; gathering medicinal herbs, in particular rosemary, in the drawings, performances, and social sculptures of Joseph Beuys (including Manresa, Barraque Ddull Odde, Geruchsplastik, Blitzschlag mit Lichtschein auf Hirsch). In the literary and visual works discussed here, foraging and its products are therapeutic both physically and spiritually, what Handke terms traumerweiternd. Moreover, in the case of Beuys in particular this healing process has explicitly social and political implications. The essay also examines foraging as an analogy for the construction of meaning and concludes with a discussion of the clearing as a privileged space in which foraging and gathering, both literally and figuratively, can take place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73 - 93
Number of pages21
JournalGerman Life and Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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