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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: May 2009

11 - Romanticism and the wider world: poetry, travel literature and empire

from Part II - Geographies: The Scenes of Literary Life
Summary
This chapter examines travel writers and Romantic poets colluded in building the moral agenda of Britain's second empire, as well as scrutinizing the generic links between travel writing and imaginative literature. Charles Batten's claim that by the end of the eighteenth century travel books were the most widely read division of literature, second only to novels and romances, seems credible. Relations between imperial ideology, the literature of travel, and emergent notions of literary value, were more problematic than is assumed by some post-colonial critics. The chapter focuses on the travel writing in the epistemology of the eighteenth century, particularly in the intellectual crucible of the Scottish Enlightenment, keeping an eye on its subsequent epistemological demotion. One of the most powerful mediators of Scottish stadial thought in the Romantic period was the Edinburgh Whig critic Francis Jeffrey. Wordsworth challenges both his travelogue source and the conventions of the poetic sub-genre to which his poem belongs.
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The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055970
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521790079
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