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Mapping the Landscape in Addison's "Pleasures of the Imagination" Anne F. Widmayer University of Michigan In "The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," Fredric Jameson coins the term "cognitive mapping" to express the need for individuals in a postmodern society to position themselves in regard to seemingly chaotic social and political structures. A cognitive map enables "a situational representation on the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable totality which is the ensemble of society's structures as a whole" (51). An individual's cognitive map can provide a reassuringly stable physical definition of self in a rapidly changing society, such as that of the twentieth century, or that of England in the eighteenth century. Joseph Addison's use of the trope of landscape and landscape gardening in his "Pleasures ofthe Imagination," I will argue, serves as a cognitive map of the social , political, and cultural attributes of the landed aristocracy that the primarily merchant class readers of the Spectator were attempting to acquire. The rage for landscape painting and landscape gardening was in full force during June and July of 1712, when the Spectator published Addison's essays on the sublime. As Edward Malins notes, the types of landscape gardening most favored during the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century in England were closely tied to the origins of the monarchs on the throne at the time. Thus, following the Restoration of Charles II, who had spent most of his life at the French court at Versailles, the French taste for geometric parterres featuring magnificent fountains and separated by radiating walkways was in vogue throughout England (5-6). William and Mary brought with them the even more formal Dutch style of landscape gardening. Closely clipped hedges, fantastical topiary, and groves of trees planted in the quincunx layout, affording ordered prospects from any point of view, were modeled at Hampton Court for the rest of the country (14-15). Under Anne, the native Englishwoman, the finicky attention paid to the royal gardens waned, and she is said to have "parsimoniously neglected [them]" (15), though she was careful to root out the distinctly Dutch box parterres upon the death of William (Clifford 98). Landscape gardening in England was never a politically neutral pursuit, for the previous style was quickly discarded in favor of the present monarch's taste. 19 20Rocky Mountain Review Painting manuals during the eighteenth century mirror the importance royal and aristocratic taste in landscapes had upon landscape painting. William Salmon's widely influential Polygraphice, which went through eight editions from 1672 to 1701, instructs a gentleman-painter to create landscapes that, like the French and Dutch parterres favored by Charles II and William and Mary, are meant to be viewed from above: "Make your Landskip to shoot (as it were) away, one part lower than another, making the nearest hill or place highest, and those that are farther off, to shoot away under that, that the Landskip may appear to be taken from the top of an hill" (35). Jonathan Richardson, the most important portrait painter of the early eighteenth century after Sir Godfrey Kneller's death, in his Theory ofPainting (1715) describes the pleasure a gentleman derives from simultaneously appreciating a painting and his own highly cultivated taste in approving it: "The pleasure that painting, as a dumb art, gives us, is like what we have from musick. . . in both we are delighted in observing the skill of the artist in proportion to it, and our own judgment to discover it. It is this. . . which gives us so much pleasure at the sight of natural pictures, a prospect, a fine sky, a garden, &c. . . ." (3). The aristocratic taste of the viewer is mapped upon the physical, whether it be a painting, a prospect, or a garden. As Addison notes in his earlier essay on taste, Number 409, natural aristocratic taste must be educated in order to be useful: "But notwithstanding this Faculty [taste] must in some measure be born with us, there are several Methods for Cultivating and Improving it, and without which it will be very uncertain, and of little use to the Person that possesses it." Late in the century, William...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-2833
Print ISSN
1948-2825
Pages
pp. 19-29
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-06
Open Access
No
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