Benjamin Colbert. Shelley's Eye: Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision (Book Review)
Studies in Romanticism 2006, Fall, 45, 3
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Description de l’éditeur
Benjamin Colbert. Shelley's Eye: Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. Pp. xi+259. $79-95 cloth. Benjamin Colbert addresses an area of study already the subject of much scholarship. But Colbert, who is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Wolverhampton, takes a different approach than most of his peers. He stresses the continuity between Shelley's Romantic-era travels and the eighteenth-century grand Tour. The end of the Napoleonic Wars, Colbert argues, enabled the resumption of the Grand Tour as a post-Congress of Vienna emblem of what Henry Kissinger memorably termed, in his 1957 study, A World Restored. Such a quintessential London institution as the Travellers' Club, for instance, was founded in 1814. Its proposer was the same Lord Casdereagh whose role in restorationist diplomacy made him such a target for Byronic-and Shelleyan-vitriol. Colbert quotes Sir Almeric Fitzroy, an early twentieth-century historian of the club, as stating it was "the offspring of the return of the peaceful organization of society" (13) after the Napoleonic upheaval. Thus, despite the manifest radicalism of Shelley's politics, the ventures into Europe that produced Alastor and Mont Blanc, not to mention Frankenstein, took place against a backdrop of seemingly reconstituted continental order. Yet this order had to make concessions to the "new political and economic circumstances" (3), including growth in mass culture and mass tourism, that were an irreversible side effect of the Napoleonic tumult.