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Interrogating the 'valley of wonders' : Some romantic-period debates about Chamonix-Mont Blanc

Duffy, Cian LU (2007) In Romanticism's Debatable Lands p.148-159
Abstract
By the time that Samuel Taylor Coleridge described Chamonix as a Valley of wonders’, in the 11 September 1802 number of the Morning Post, the region was already well established as a key focal point in the European debate about the scientific, aesthetic, political and religious significance of sublime landscape.1 However, Chamonix’s prominence on the cultural map of Europe was also relatively recently acquired. ‘Incredible as it may seem’, Ebel’s popular Traveller’s Guide in Switzerland commented in 1820, ‘this valley so singularly interesting, in which is seen the highest mountain of the old world, was entirely unknown until the year 1741.’2 Ebel’s date for the discovery of Chamonix-Mont Blanc is that of the first British expedition to... (More)
By the time that Samuel Taylor Coleridge described Chamonix as a Valley of wonders’, in the 11 September 1802 number of the Morning Post, the region was already well established as a key focal point in the European debate about the scientific, aesthetic, political and religious significance of sublime landscape.1 However, Chamonix’s prominence on the cultural map of Europe was also relatively recently acquired. ‘Incredible as it may seem’, Ebel’s popular Traveller’s Guide in Switzerland commented in 1820, ‘this valley so singularly interesting, in which is seen the highest mountain of the old world, was entirely unknown until the year 1741.’2 Ebel’s date for the discovery of Chamonix-Mont Blanc is that of the first British expedition to the region, by William Windham and Richard Pococke, the latter recently returned from his well publicized travels in the Middle East. By identifying Windham and Pococke as the discoverers of Chamonix, however, Ebel’s Guide does not simply point to their role as geographical explorers, but also — indeed moreover — to their role as the inaugurators of the debate about the region’s cultural topography. This essay charts the contours of that European debate about Chamonix-Mont Blanc, tracing in the published records of the most prominent eighteenth-century expeditions to the region, the emergence of tropes which would come to define English romantic-period engagements with the Alpine sublime, and which arguably continue to influence contemporary perceptions of the Alps. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding
publication status
published
in
Romanticism's Debatable Lands
editor
Lamont, Claire and Rossington, Michael
pages
148 - 159
publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN
978-1-349-35374-3
DOI
10.1057/9780230210875_12
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
1b5a2f94-caac-42a9-ac9d-1a6f7ec6d16a
date added to LUP
2016-07-03 14:46:05
date last changed
2016-07-12 13:39:13
@misc{1b5a2f94-caac-42a9-ac9d-1a6f7ec6d16a,
  abstract     = {By the time that Samuel Taylor Coleridge described Chamonix as a Valley of wonders’, in the 11 September 1802 number of the Morning Post, the region was already well established as a key focal point in the European debate about the scientific, aesthetic, political and religious significance of sublime landscape.1 However, Chamonix’s prominence on the cultural map of Europe was also relatively recently acquired. ‘Incredible as it may seem’, Ebel’s popular Traveller’s Guide in Switzerland commented in 1820, ‘this valley so singularly interesting, in which is seen the highest mountain of the old world, was entirely unknown until the year 1741.’2 Ebel’s date for the discovery of Chamonix-Mont Blanc is that of the first British expedition to the region, by William Windham and Richard Pococke, the latter recently returned from his well publicized travels in the Middle East. By identifying Windham and Pococke as the discoverers of Chamonix, however, Ebel’s Guide does not simply point to their role as geographical explorers, but also — indeed moreover — to their role as the inaugurators of the debate about the region’s cultural topography. This essay charts the contours of that European debate about Chamonix-Mont Blanc, tracing in the published records of the most prominent eighteenth-century expeditions to the region, the emergence of tropes which would come to define English romantic-period engagements with the Alpine sublime, and which arguably continue to influence contemporary perceptions of the Alps.},
  author       = {Duffy, Cian},
  editor       = {Lamont, Claire and Rossington, Michael},
  isbn         = {978-1-349-35374-3},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {148--159},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x94ae718)},
  series       = {Romanticism's Debatable Lands},
  title        = {Interrogating the 'valley of wonders' : Some romantic-period debates about Chamonix-Mont Blanc},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230210875_12},
  year         = {2007},
}