Romantic Poetry influenced some of the Victorian geographers, as David Craig showed in Native Stones. And Romantic aesthietics, it could be argued, aided the subjection of place to space, helped abstract the local into a universal scheme. But this is not the argument of Michael Wiley's excellent book...Wiley is a perceptive and persuasive close-reader of poetry...Throughout, he quietly and impressively demonstrates how Wordsworth's lines resonated in the particular contexts of their times...Always clear, often elegant, Wiley throws shafts of light on Home at Grasmere, the 1802 sonnets, The Excursion and Tintern Abbey....he resists eary generalisation and provides the kind of unexpected detail that refocues debate...Not least among the virtues of Wiley's enjoyable book is its modest reminder that events other than the French Revolution shaped the politics and aesthtics of Romanticism.' - Fim Fulford, The Wordsworth Circle
'His book is an important contribution to the critical effort to re-situate Wordsworth in his historical and political context.' - John Haydn Baker, Times Literary Supplement
Romantic Geography offers a Wordsworth who engages fully with the political and social concerns of post French Revolutionary Great Britain.
Countering established views that Wordsworth and his contemporaries evasively displace the actual world through the idealizing imagination, Michael Wiley provides a fresh materialist model of Romantic displacement by returning the term to its spatial and geographical roots. Eighteenth-century social and political groups contested spaces through maps, travel literature, topographical descriptions and other geographical writings. In this context, Wiley argues, Wordsworth's landscapes reconfigure institutional representations of the land, positing critical alternatives to them.
This argument is grounded in the historical sources of Wordsworth's poetry and is informed by recent work in cultural, sociological and geographical studies. Romantic Geography provides fresh insights into some of Wordsworth's most hotly disputed texts. It is important reading for those working in the field of Romanticism and the fast-growing field of spatial studies.
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