According to a 1964 article in Modern Philology by John Nabholtz, Wordsworth intended his Guide to the Lakes (first published in 1810; fifth edition in 1835) as a corrective to picturesque writers like Gilpin. He intended his book to model how landscape writing should be done, and most critics have taken Wordsworth at his word.
Nabholtz, however, points out that Wordsworth makes regular positive reference to the picturesque tradition he is supposed to be combating. Wordsworth did observe that the picturesque writers confined their discussion to the surface appearance of things, while he attempted to penetrate to the causes of those appearances, to discover the sources of sublimity in nature. But Wordsworth remained within the picturesque tradition. The places he wrote about are precisely those that fit the picturesque criteria of natural beauty, and even his effort to penetrate to the natural forces that produce picturesque was anticipated by picturesque writer Uvedale Price in his 1794 Essay on the Picturesque.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Monday, August 27, 2007 at 04:30 PM
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