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Romantic Walking and Railway Realism

Bowlby, R; (2019) Romantic Walking and Railway Realism. In: Chao, S-L and Corrigan, JM, (eds.) Romantic Legacies: Transnational and Transdisciplinary Contexts. Routledge: New York, US. Green open access

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Abstract

In Romantic literature, walking is often a way of thinking: in the writings of Rousseau and Wordsworth, it is the solitary philosophical “promenade” through a natural landscape at once far from the distractions of the modern world and of interest in itself. But after Romanticism, the rural walker becomes a passenger, as the path is taken over by the railway. It’s perhaps not a coincidence that railways began at the same moment as realism, in the late 1820s: at the end of Romanticism, we could say. What does the railway do to the walking imagination and the imagination of walking? Far from the indefinite passages of a ramble, the train journey is a direct and regular movement between predetermined points. But hitherto unseen worlds appear via this new mode of travel cutting its straight, level lines. And the older reflective walker now appears, romantically, as an anachronism, a figure in a pre-industrial landscape—as if seen from the train window. With examples from Rousseau’s Confessions, Nerval’s Promenades et souvenirs, and Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbevilles, amongst others, this chapter looks at some possible relations between realism, Romanticism, and the railway: that carrier of new kinds of post-Romantic narrative prospect.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Romantic Walking and Railway Realism
ISBN: 0429516231
ISBN-13: 9780429516238
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.4324/9780429243080
Publisher version: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/978042924308...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10102058
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