Abstract

How does one understand present experience as part of a larger historical totality? As she represents the contested ground of the Channel coast during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, that question underlies Charlotte Smith’s complex engagement with contemporary geology, then an emerging science for discerning the system of the globe’s operations – their absent but “actual causes,” as James Hutton put it, in their “perceived effects.” In the ground’s mixture of natural and human history, local with global matter, and past processes in their present traces, Smith also finds inspiration for a poetics that can hold together, without resolving, the particular phenomena of individual experience, the forces that structure and shape them from a distance, and the gap in between. The resulting heterogeneous verse practice differs pointedly from the better-known, contemporary ideal of organic form.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 983-1006
Launched on MUSE
2014-09-03
Open Access
No
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