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554 BOOK REVIEWS measure and represent landscape. Christopher Ricks long ago pointed out the frequency with which Wordsworth uses variants of the word line throughout his verse, a lexicon that accustomed readers to visual bound­ aries and the phonic effect of the line itself within a blank verse paragraph (see “Wordsworth: ‘A Pure Organic Pleasure from the Lines,” Essays in Criticism 21 [1971]: 1-23). For Ricks, lines were a natural hinge between aesthetic form and Wordsworth’s concerns with a balance between sight and hearing. Carlson, in contrast, argues that “line and lines are not a ‘natu­ ral’ self-reference in the blank verse of The Prelude. Inscribed from the ear­ liest stages ofthe poem and incorporated in its latest phases ofrevision, they reflect the shifting autobiographical concerns and representational strategies as well as a formal consciousness sharpened by contemporary projects of marking and measuring the landscape that had unprecedented cultural visi­ bility and authority” (100). She then joins this claim to a related argument about the marking and measuring of Wordsworth’s blank verse in the elo­ cution movement. Ultimately, this book insists on the distinctly political importance of blank verse as iambic pentameter becomes a visual and vocal medium through which both nation and empire are consolidated. After Joseph North’s trenchant critique of contextual politics, one might ask here about the degree to which we should take seriously a politics of form (see Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History, Harvard University Press, 2017). Re­ gardless of how this debate develops, Romantic Marks and Measures consti­ tutes a powerful example of the kinds of knowledge that can be produced through close attention to the shaping power of literary form. Jonathan Sachs Concordia University, Montreal Alan Bewell. Natures in Translation: Romanticism and Colonial Natural His­ tory. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017. Pp. xvii+ 393. $60. Alan Bewell’s important book urges us to think ofnature as plural. He asks why, when we are comfortable with so many other plurals—such as the idea ofmany cultures rather than a single culture—we persist in thinking of nature as a monolithic entity. The natures that emerge from his book are in constant movement, translated from one place and peoples to another, cir­ culating around the globe, adapting and changing to ever-new environ­ ments. The natures he describes in the book are “thoroughly modern” in this ability to be translated. SiR, 56 (Winter 2017) BOOK REVIEWS 555 Bewell sets out to read “human history as it was registered in the changes that were taking place in the natural world” (xii). This is a focus through­ out and a really interesting new consideration of Romanticism. As Bewell puts it, “Nature was where history was being made at this time” (7). A nat­ ural landscape—whether in Britain or abroad—can be seen as a palimpsest, revealing its history, which has been “shaped by mobility, conflict, and change” (xiv). While both Wordsworth and Clare see nature as a link to the past, Wordsworth saw it as a “spiritual alternative to the pressures of modern industrial, urban and commercial life, Clare’s was a nature that was irretrievably lost, a ghostly world that spoke of his displacement and exile” (6). BewelTs book reinscribes colonialism into the historical study of Ro­ mantic poetry written in the Lake District, Helpston, Australia, and Amer­ ica, commenting that in all cases “where one nature stands, another nature has been displaced” (16). Landscapes can be read historically through the evidence ofthe nature present and lost. Colonial settlers carried with them the flora and fauna of their past locations and in turn they displaced local and indigenous nature. The idea of translation offers an apt means by which to think through the movement of nature. Plants and animals accompanied human migrants on their travels, being carried from one place to another; in the words of Alfred W. Crosby they are “portmanteau biota.” What emerged at the other end are, according to Bewell, “hybrid natures, brought into being by the mixing of indigenous plants and animals with newcomers” (28). There are some great stories of plant life being introduced on the soles of British shoes, found growing on the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-118X
Print ISSN
0039-3762
Pages
pp. 554-557
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-06
Open Access
No
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