Scientific Literature in The Evergreen

In the final volume of The Evergreen, (1896-97) centered around the season of winter there is an overt scientific outlook on art. Due to the little magazine’s focus on seasons as well as environmentalism this is warranted, as the connection to nature is a scientific subject in itself. What I found the most interesting in this volume was in the piece “The Biology of Winter” in which J. Arthur Thompson ties the stories of “Sleeping Beauty” (the fairy tale) and the Balder (a norse mythological figure) to the changing biological state of winter. It is the tie to the tale of “Sleeping Beauty” that intrigued me the most. Winter could be seen as a state of the death of nature in a beautiful way, alike to the sleeping beauty who in some versions of the tale causes people to travel across the land to admire her, shockingly beautiful while in death. From a biological perspective, this is how winter can be seen, as the temporary death of nature like flowers or trees losing their leaves but still admired due to the presence of snow, ice, or cold winds.

Furthermore, in this line of thinking a scientific outlook on changing states of the seasons applied to mythic imagery doesn’t seem as far-fetched as I originally anticipated. It brought me back to a conversation we had during the first few weeks of this class, the realist versus symbolist outlook. The biological approach got me asking – how different is science and mythic thinking? Mythic outlooks are a way to come to a conclusion about an aspect of the world and display it in symbolism – while a biological outlook does the same but with a realist approach. It seems to me that again the thinkers in little magazines are wrestling with symbolism or realism as a preferred lens.

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