Konraad Claes “What to Naturalists is known as Symbiosis: Literature, Community, and Nature in The Evergreen”

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Claes, Konraad. “What to Naturalists is known as Symbiosis: Literature, Community, and Nature in The Evergreen,” Scottish Review, vol. 4, no. 1, 2012, pp. 111 – 129.

Claes’ essay focuses on how The Evergreen functioned as both a symbol and literary vessel for the propagation of the Scottish Renascence and the Celtic Revival. His essay is interested in how The Evergreen’s elements of sociology, natural history, and gender debates allowed for a metaphorical “natural harmony” that established the magazine’s views on the aesthetic and socio-political conditions of the Victorian period.

Claes introduces the “driving force” of The Evergreen, Patrick Geddes, and explains how his ideological views resulted in the cultural and social value of the magazine. Geddes’ hope was to create a system dependent on the opportunities and limitations for people all over the world that would improve their living conditions. The system was referred to as “Civics”. Geddes discovered his values as a part of the larger Celtic Revival; and he chose to use The Evergreen as a focal point for the reimagination of traditional Celtic values.

Claes attributes Geddes values to the production quality and structure of the magazine. The Evergreen’s material quality emblematized the builder’s craft, promoting a resurgence in local craftmanship and the value of objects. Furthermore, the publication structure of the magazine followed the equinoxes and solstices in order to resist the Georgian calendar of the Victorian period in favour of a naturalistic approach to life. The periodicals favoured the natural via a strict focus on a season for each respective edition. Claes highlights these qualities and reconnects them to how the magazine performed a “natural harmony” that combined the topics of art and science within a sectioned structure. The promotion of The Evergreen’s values through both art and science was Geddes’ methodology for the promotion of Civics and the utopian reimagination of Celtic traditions within modern society.