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uni'wissen 01-2014_ENG

von Stephanie Streif Get me out of the city, the French civil servant and writer François-René de Chateaubriand must have thought when he decided to buy a country chateau with an overgrown garden near Paris. “This limited space seemed suitable for enclosing the hopes I had long entertained,” he notes on 4 October 1811 at the beginning of his memoirs. But before Chateaubriand takes up his quill to set down his eventful life in writing, he looks out at the lush thicket of his garden and describes the abundance of fruit and chestnut trees as well as the as yet small trees he has recently planted himself. Why? Only this place, he notes, has the potential to coax out the feelings hidden in the depths of his soul. The garden becomes a space of memory in which he can write himself into a state of leisure. As special as this moment of reflection might have been for Chateaubriand, it is quite typical of many authors of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. However, the topos of the ideal space of seclusion that enables one to experience leisure and reflect on one’s life becomes ever more fragile in the course of the modern age. The portrayal of peaceful moments of leisure in the literature of the past and the present is the topic of the University of Freiburg’s collaborative research center SFB 1015, “Leisure: Concepts, Spaces, Figures.” The goal of the large-scale interdisciplinary project, which encompasses 15 research teams working on 15 subprojects, is to study the cultural history of productive unproductivity until the end of the year 2016. The participating disciplines are philos- 36 Seclusion – Idyllic but Fragile by Stephanie Streif How authors portray their own narrative situation in autobiographical texts – and sometimes experience leisure in doing so