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The Call of Classical Literature in the Romantic Age$
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K. P. Van Anglen and James Engell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474429641

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474429641.001.0001

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William Gilpin: A Classical Eye for the Picturesque

William Gilpin: A Classical Eye for the Picturesque

(p.35) Chapter 1 William Gilpin: A Classical Eye for the Picturesque
The Call of Classical Literature in the Romantic Age

Margaret Doody

Edinburgh University Press

This essay traces William Gilpin’s responsive and rhetorical use of classical quotation in his travel writings. There he develops and establishes the new aesthetic idea of “the picturesque”. Gilpin validates his establishment of a new aesthetic by anchoring his (and our) sensibilities in classical verse, including Virgil’s. The picturesque, it seems, is no break with the past—it is classical. It reprehends the vulgar. At times, however, Gilpin refrains from classical allusion where it might seem an obvious resort, apparently keeping his territory and territorial ideas free for a purely English occupation. He may even transform his classical material into subordinate sources of heavy fact, saving the exploration and imagination for himself.

Keywords:   Gilpin, Virgil, classical elements of the picturesque, vision, abbeys, alternatives to allusion

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