The Consolations of Space: The Place of Romance in Hawthorne, Melville, and James

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Stanford University Press, 1990 - Literary Criticism - 219 pages
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Unlike studies that detail how American writers have responded to the physical American landscape, this book takes its point of departure from the peculiarities of romance as American writers have understood it. Romance has always been tied to place, but not to literal or regional place: even when the topography of romance is represented as a place to which one might actually go. it is always, as Coleridge remarked of Spenser's Faeryland, a mental landscape. that landscape is, by its very nature, visionary, so that its details necessarily constitute a trope of perspective. It is the space the writer creates, in which he or she stands so as to see things better, under those particular lights and shadows that make romance possible. Other writers have and have not been there before. While the spaces of romance create the writer's perspective - trope the very writing of romance - they contain complex allusions to poetic forebears. Thus this book also explores the function of literary allusion in American romance, especially in the nineteenth century.

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