By Cian Duffy (auth.)
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Extra info for The Landscapes of the Sublime, 1700–1830: Classic Ground
Upon the tops of mountains, the air being subtle and pure, we respire with greater freedom, our bodies are more active, our minds more serene, our pleasures less ardent, and our passions much more moderate. Our meditations acquire a degree of sublimity from the grandeur of the objects that surround us. 7 This specific passage, not simply Rousseau’s claim, echoes throughout eighteenth-century and Romantic-period writing about the Alpine sublime. Helen Maria Williams, for example, quotes it in full in her Tour in Switzerland, while G.
26 The Landscapes of the Sublime, 1700–1830 Hence, while such an enquiry clearly falls outside the scope of the present volume, it would no doubt prove fruitful to pursue in more detail the dialogue established between the genres of engagement with the ‘natural sublime’ which I consider here and the other, contemporary genres of writing which generate issues of subjectivity, not least among them the various works of philosophical aesthetics which investigate the wider category of ‘the sublime’.
6 The vocabulary of Wordsworth’s apostrophe to the imagination, Liu suggests, records a specific engagement with Napoleon’s crossing of the Alps in 1800, en route to defeat the Austrians at Marengo. Wordsworth is thus testing the imagination, or poetic power, against political power, rather than against a material nature. This explains, Liu concludes, why Wordsworth’s first account of his Alpine tour, in his Descriptive Sketches of 1793, does not contain any comparable address to the imagination: because Wordsworth’s actual antagonist in the apostrophe to the imagination, Napoleon, had not yet crossed the Alps.
The Landscapes of the Sublime, 1700–1830: Classic Ground by Cian Duffy (auth.)