The Picturesque and the Sublime: A Poetics of the Canadian Landscape

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 212 pages
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Winner of the Gabrielle Roy Prize in English and the Raymond Klibansky Prize, The Picturesque and the Sublime is a cultural history of two hundred years of nature writing in Canada, from eighteenth-century prospect poems to contemporary encounters with landscape. Arguing against the received wisdom (made popular by Northrop Frye and Margaret Atwood) that Canadian writers view nature as hostile, Susan Glickman places Canadian literature in the English and European traditions of the sublime and the picturesque.
Glickman argues that early immigrants to Canada brought with them the expectation that nature would be grand, mysterious, awesome – even terrifying – and welcomed scenes that conformed to these notions of sublimity. She contends that to interpret their descriptions of nature as "negative," as so many critics have done, is a significant misunderstanding. Glickman provides close readings of several important works, including Susanna Moodie's "Enthusiasm," Charles G.D. Roberts's Ave, and Paulette Jiles's "Song to the Rising Sun," and explores the poems in the context of theories of nature and art.
Instead of projecting backward from a modernist perspective, Glickman reads forward from the discovery of landscape as a legitimate artistic subject in seventeenth-century England and argues that picturesque modes of description, and a sublime aesthetic, have governed much of the representation of nature in this country.
Susan Glickman is a poet living in Toronto. She is the author of Complicity, The Power to Move, Henry Moore's Sheep and Other Poems, and Hide and Seek.
 

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Contents

Abrams Plain and Quebec Hill
20
The Waxing and Waning of Susanna Moodies
60
Wordsworth
81
New Provinces? or In Acadia No Ego
103
Song to the Rising Sun
128
Notes
155
Index
207
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