- Purchase/rental options available:
This article examines the influence of landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing's seminal work, A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1841), on Poe's landscape tales. Poe knew this book through reading a review in Arcturus appearing in the same year and, as strong evidence suggests, through perusing Downing's tract firsthand sometime before 1843. Looking at the affinities between Downing's and Poe's aesthetic principles, we may see that Downing's landscape gardening theory profoundly influenced Poe's later fiction and validated his belief in the powerful role of the artist in the creation of Beauty. Two landscape tales, in particular, demonstrate the correlation between Poe's writing and the principles of landscape gardening popularized in his time: "The Domain of Arnheim" of 1847, and its "pendant," "Landor's Cottage" of 1849. Situating Poe's work in the context of landscape gardening—first by establishing Downing's influence on Poe and then by examining the environmental impact of their idealized landscapes—we may see how both literary and horticultural texts echoed the broader culture's demand for a composed American landscape without considering the environmental consequences of putting these aesthetic theories into practice.