Romantic Travellers

Aims of course

Overall thesis? Discovery of the self (and its limits) through travel, landscape encounters; challenges cultural presuppositions and expectations, including those of gender.

Extracts from Compass Points and other notes on website:

Essentially, the picturesque could recognize the artistic richness of enclosure because it was itself visual enclosure. Where enclosure acts hedged the land, acts of picturesque vision framed it in an endlessly repeatable enclosure of pure picturicity. (Alan Liu, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (1989), p. 94)

Wordsworth's advocacy of simple vernacular diction is predicated on his view that human passion incorporates the forms of nature. (James McKusick, "Coleridge and the Economy of Nature." Studies in Romanticism, 35 (1996), 375-390.)

Nature has her proper interest; & he will know what it is, who believes & feels, that every Thing has a Life of it's own, & that we are all one Life. A Poet's Heart & Intellect should be combined, intimately combined & unified, with the great appearances in Nature--& not merely held in solution & loose mixture with them, in the shape of formal Similies. (Coleridge, Letter to William Sotheby. Sept 10 1802.)

It is not words only that are emblematic; it is things which are emblematic. Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact. Every appearance in nature corresponds to some state of the mind, and that state of the mind can only be described by presenting that natural appearance as its picture. (Emerson's Nature (1836). From Chapter IV: Language.)

To stumble upon otherness without foreknowledge is the experiential equivalent of launching one's creative imagination into the visionary mode, unhampered by reason. (Roger Cardinal, "Romantic Travel." In R. Porter (Ed.), Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Renaissance to the Present (1997), p. 147)

The travel writer, like the aesthetic subject, was normatively male in an age when the home was literally and symbolically woman's place. (Elizabeth Bohls, Women Travel Writers and the Language of Aesthetics, 1716-1818 (1995), pp. 17-18)

Whoever has wandered far, and seen much, has learned to distrust the promises of books; and (in respect of the most splendid efforts of human labour) must have often felt how far the unworn expectation starts beyond its possible accomplishment. But nature never disappoints. Neither the memory nor the imagination of authorship can go beyond the fact she dictates, or the image she presents. (Lady Morgan, Italy, 1821, p. 33.)

Tourism stimulates travel, sometimes quite closely . . . . But it is different in crucial ways. It is not self-directed but externally directed. You go not where you want to go but where the industry has decreed you shall go. (Paul Fussell, The Norton Book of Travel (1987), p. 651)

Sharon Cameron has suggested that "to write about nature is to write about how the mind sees nature, and sometimes about how the mind sees itself". . . Nature writers are constantly probing, traumatizing, thrilling, and soothing their own minds -- and by extension those of their readers -- in quest not only of consciousness itself, but of an understanding of consciousness. (Scott Slovic. "Nature Writing and Environmental Psychology." The Ecocriticism Readers: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm, Eds. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1996. 351-370.)

the falsity of the trite maxim, that the mind becomes elevated by the contemplation of nature. . . . [the mind] is stricken back upon its own insignificance. (Lady Morgan, Italy, 1821, p. 34.)

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Document created March 28th 2005