The history of landscapes and geological formations is a frequent topic of contemplation for the protagonists in Adalbert Stifter's narratives. Their questions about the readability of the surface of the earth evoke the tradition of the book of nature, but the increasing awareness of the depth of geological time calls for a more dynamic form of archive, one that is not threatened by but based on processes of decomposition and decipherment. This essay closely examines passages from Der Nachsommer, the preface to Bunte Steine, Granit, and Aus dem Bayrischen Walde to suggest that, in the face of the unfathomable past and unstable earth, both landscapes and narrative itself are continually eroded, recomposed, and restructured. Literature thus participates in the archival processes it seeks to describe, continually re-examining the history of the earth and our relationship to it, while acknowledging its aporias of unreadability and invisibility and allowing these to afford glimpses beyond the human perspective.


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pp. 281-307
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