Chapter

The Britishness of the Present at Stowe

James Noggle

in The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642434
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738579 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642434.003.0003
The Britishness of the Present at Stowe

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The landscape garden was considered a uniquely English, uniquely modern art form—a uniqueness derived in part from the intensity of immediate tasteful experience that places like Stowe elicited. The first of three sections shows that William Gilpin’s Dialogue Upon the Gardens of…Stow seeks to join spontaneous pleasure at Stowe with sense of nationalistic destiny, but comes to recognize the gap between them can never be quite closed. The second demonstrates that Joseph Warton’s poem The Enthusiast uses Stowe to represent the corrupting history of British taste, yet his alternative, the sensory immediacy provided by nature, gains meaning only within the corruption narrative that Stowe helps him tell. The third section argues that while Horace Walpole only indirectly looks at Stowe in his seminal History of the Modern Taste in Gardening, it models an immediacy of affect for all modern gardens that distorts and finally demolishes his attempt to narrate their past, present, and future.

Keywords: Stowe Landscape Garden; taste; temporality; modernity; William Gilpin; Joseph Warton; Horace Walpole

Chapter.  15270 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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