G. Călinescu Institute of Literary History and Theory, Romanian Academy
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Eminescu-Thermosopher or How Science Enters Poetry (II)
Abstract: In this essay I show that the picture of universal extinction in the poem Satire I of the Romantic poet Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) is deeply and rigorously inspired by a theory of thermodynamics from the 1870s, more precisely by the theory of universal “death” launched in the second part of 19th century by physicists William Thomson and Rudolf Clausius. My interpretation addresses competing interpretations, from literary-centric scenarios claiming that Eminescu’s representation of the extinction is inspired by or approaches models of the mythological-Christian tradition or universal literature, to scenarios that also launch hypotheses in the field of science, but other than thermodynamics. I am also interested in producing here, in the alternative, a critique of the thesis – widespread not only in popular culture but also in the most serious academic circles – according to which many of the discoveries of modern and even contemporary science would have been “announced,” “contained,” or “coded” in literary fiction, mythology, religious narratives etc., from ancient times (Indian, Judeo-Christian mythology etc.) to modern authors. Keywords: classical mechanics, cosmology, termodinamics, entropy, poetry, Immanuel Kant, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Rudolf Clausius, Spiru Haret, Mihai Eminescu, Scrisoarea I, G. Călinescu, Ion Heliade Rădulescu.
Citation suggestion: Dumitru, Teodora. “Eminescu-thermosof sau cum intră știința în poezie (II).” Transilvania, no. 9 (2022): 25-41. https://doi.org/10.51391/trva.2022.09.04.