Long before the Romantics embraced nature, people in the West saw the human and nonhuman worlds as both intimately interdependent and violently antagonistic. With its peerless selection of ninety-eight original sources concerned with the natural world and humankind's place within it, The Marvels of the World offers a corrective to the still-prevalent tendency to dismiss premodern attitudes toward nature as simple or univocal.
Gathering together medical texts, herbals, and how-to books, as well as scientific, religious, philosophical, and poetic works dating from antiquity to the dawn of the Enlightenment, the anthology explores both mainstream and unconventional thinking about the natural world. Its seven parts focus on philosophy and science; plants; animals; weather and climate; ways of inhabiting the land; gardens and gardening; and European encounters with the wider world. Each section and each of the book's selections is prefaced with a helpful introduction by volume editor Rebecca Bushnell that weaves connections among these compelling pieces of the past. The early writers collected here wrote with extraordinary openness about ways of coexisting with the nonhuman forces that shaped them, Bushnell demonstrates, even as they sought to control and exploit their environment. Taken as a whole, The Marvels of the World reveals how many of these early writers cared as much about the natural world as we do today.
Introduction Part 1. Natural Philosophy and Natural Knowledge
Hebrew Bible, Genesis 1
Lucretius, De rerum natura, or On the Nature of Things
Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia, or Natural History, On the Nature of the Earth
Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine, On the Elements
Hildegard of Bingen, Causae et curae, or Causes and Cures
Alain de Lille, De planctu naturae, or The Complaint of Nature
Roger Bacon, Opus majus, or Greater Work
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de potentia dei, or Disputed Questions on the Power of God
Pseudo-Albertus Magnus, The Book of the Secrets of Albertus Magnus
Giambattista della Porta, Magia naturalis, or Natural Magic
Guillaume du Bartas, La sepmaine ou creation du monde, or Divine Weeks and Works, On the Seventh Day
Hugh Platt, Floraes Paradise
Francis Bacon, Novum organum, or New Organon, and New Atlantis
Hannah Wolley, The Ladies Directory
Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World
Thomas Sprat, History of the Royal Society
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, "First Dream" Part 2. Plants
Theophrastus, De causis plantarum, or On the Causes of Plants
Aristotle, De anima, or Of the Soul
Dioscorides, De materia medica, or Herbal
Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia, or Natural History, On Flowers
Pseudo-Apuleius, The Old English Herbarium
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women
Pierre de Ronsard, "Ode to Cassandra"
Leonhart Fuchs, De historia stirpium, or On the History of Plants
William Turner, A New Herbal
John Gerard, The Herbal or General History of Plants
Guillaume Du Bartas, La sepmaine ou creation du monde, or Divine Weeks and Works, On
William Lawson, A New Orchard and Garden, On the Cultivation of Trees
John Parkinson, Paradisi in Sole: Paradisus Terrestris, On Auriculas
George Herbert, "The Flower"
Ralph Austen, A Treatise of Fruit Trees, and The Spiritual Use of an Orchard or Garden of Fruit Trees
Johanna St. John, Manuscript Recipes
Samuel Gilbert,Florist's Vade-Mecum, On Auriculas Part 3. Animals
Aristotle, Historia animalium, or The History of Animals
Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia, or Natural History, On Animals Physiologus
Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum, or On the Properties of Things
Second-Family Bestiary Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Parliament of Fowls
Marie de France, Fables
John Lydgate, "The Debate of the Horse, Goose, and Sheep"
Anselm Turmeda, The Disputation of the Donkey
Michel de Montaigne, "An Apology for Raymond Sebond"
John Caius, Of English Dogges
Thomas Johnson, Cornucopiae
Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts
Gervase Markham, Markham's Masterpiece
Hester Pulter, "The Ugly Spider"
Richard Lovelace, "The Snail"
Margaret Cavendish, Grounds of Natural Philosophy
Robert Hooke, Micrographia Part 4. Weather, Climate, and Seasons
Hippocrates, Airs, Waters, Places
Aristotle, Meteorologica, or Meteorology
Virgil, Georgics, Book 1, On the Storm
Pseudo-Aristotle, Secreta secretorum, or The Secret of Secrets
Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine, On Climate
Wandalbert of Prüm, On the Names, Signs, Times of Planting, and Qualities of Weather of the Twelve
William Ram, Rams Little Dodoen
Thomas Tusser, An Hundredth Points of Good Husbandrie
William Shakespeare, King Lear
Amelia Lanyer, "The Description of Cookham"
William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Thomas Jackson, The Raging Tempest Stilled
Thomas Sprat and Robert Hooke, History of the Royal Society, On Weather
Samuel Gilbert, Florist's Vade-Mecum, Instructions for July Part 5. Inhabiting the Land
Theocritus, Idyll 7
Virgil, Eclogue 1
Virgil, Georgics, On Farming
Columella, Res rustica, or On Agriculture, On Farming
Walter of Henley, Dite de hosbondrie, or Boke of Husbandry
William Langland, Piers Plowman Second Shepherd's Play, from the Wakefield Mystery Plays
Jacopo Sannazaro, Arcadia
Thomas More, Utopia
Thomas Tusser, Five Hundredth Points of Good Husbandrie
William Harrison, Description of England
Edmund Spenser, The Shephearde's Calendar
Gervase Markham, The English Husbandman, On Farming
Ben Jonson, "To Penshurst"
Mary Wroth, Urania
Robert Herrick, "The Hock-Cart, or Harvest Home"
Walter Blith, The English Improver Improved
Part 6. Gardens and Gardening
Columella, Res rustica, or On Agriculture, On Gardens
Pietro de' Crescenzi, Liber ruralium commodorum, or Book of Rural Commodity
Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Le roman de la rose, or The Romance of the Rose
Nicolas Bollard, On Planting and Grafting
Thomas Hill, The Gardener's Labyrinth
Robert Laneham, Description of the Garden at Kenilworth
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene
Gervase Markham, The English Husbandman, On Grafting
William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale
William Lawson, A New Orchard and Garden and The Countrie Housewife's Garden, On Domestic
John Parkinson, Paradisi in Sole: Paradisus Terrestris, On Nature and Gardening
Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort, Description of Her Garden
René Rapin, Hortorum Libri IV, or Of Gardens
Andrew Marvell, "The Mower Against Gardens"
Hester Pulter, "The Snail, the Tulip, and the Bee"
John Evelyn, Elysium Britannicum, or The Royal Gardens
John Worlidge, Systema Horticulturae, or The Art of Gardening in Three Books Part 7. Outlandish Natural Worlds
Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia, or Natural History, On Arabia, Ethiopia, and the Fortunate Isles
John Mandeville, Travels
Leo Africanus, Della descrittione dell'Africa, or Description of Africa
Jean de Léry, Histoire d'un voyage fait en la terre de Brésil, or History of a Voyage to the Land of
Thomas Harriot, Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia
Walter Raleigh, Discovery of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of Guiana
Michael Drayton, "Ode: To the Virginian Voyage"
John Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum
Thomas Sprat, History of the Royal Society, Observations on Java
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave: A True History
Recommended Reading and Bibliography
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Rebecca Bushnell is the School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers Emerita Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens among other books.
"[A]n invaluable addition to the growing list of anthologies on this topic, not least because it offers an unusually expansive scope (Antiquity to 1700), but also because its contextual material is enormously readable and informative; each section provides a solid grounding in nature writing that situates the readings topically and with a sense of their position in time and place… Bushnell’s anthology serves to rewrite natural history in important ways, shifting the usual narratives. It also demonstrates how the teleology of human interactions with the landscapes they inhabit is as uncertain, perhaps even as unpredictable, as the particulars of the seasons themselves; and it illustrates how that natural history was inscribed in the soil as well as on the page, by those who toiled as well as those who imagined."
~Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment
"Rebecca Bushnell’s anthology offers its readers 112 excerpts of nature writing from antiquity through the late seventeenth century. The product of a seminar she taught at the University of Pennsylvania, this collection of sources immerses readers in a well-curated collection...[T]he very premise of the volume invites us to contemplate genres of writing about nature across the centuries. Bushnell has done a scholarly service by sharing her own work as a teacher of premodern nature writing."