This essay discusses the value of the Anthropocene concept for the environmental humanities and in particular for the analysis of contemporary environmentally themed literature. The first part of the essay considers the culturally relevant consequences of the originally geographic Anthropocene concept, to filter out a heuristic for the analysis of literary texts. In the second part, this perspective is applied comparatively to two German-language novels that address geologic eras. Through the two examples, by Max Frisch and Ilija Trojanow, I want to argue that although environmental literature since its emergence in the 1970s has never explicitly thematized the Anthropocene, this perspective is arguably a hidden theme. I propose the term Anthropocene literature as a descriptive and diagnostic concept to characterize literary texts that reflect on the human condition in the face of fundamental human transformations of the planetary surface on a global scale.

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