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Sotherton and the Geography of Empire: The Landscapes of Mansfield Park.

WITH ITS RESTORATION OF ORDER AND HARMONY ON THE ESTATE, THE conclusion to Mansfield Park has often been read as Jane Austen's paean to conservative ideology and the triumph of empire. (1) By the final chapter, the adulterous Maria Bertram has been ostracized along with her prolix Aunt Norris; the rakish Tom has reformed after an extended, chastening illness; and Edmund and Fanny have acceded to the living at Mansfield. On the event of Mr. Grant's death, as the novel concludes in its final, awkward sentence, Fanny and Edmund
   removed to Mansfield, and the parsonage there, which, under each of
   its two former owners, Fanny had never been able to approach but
   with some painful sensation of restraint or alarm, soon grew as
   dear to her heart, and as thoroughly perfect in her eyes, as
   everything else, within the view and patronage of Mansfield Park,
   had long been. (2)

This picture of sedate and ordered well-being does indeed seem to depict what Moira Ferguson has called "a kinder, gentler plantocracy," a privileged vision of ease, concord, and familiarity that contrasts starkly with the squalor of Portsmouth, the decadence of London, and the otherness of an Antigua that can only be imagined by most of Mansfield's inhabitants. (3) The "perfection" of Mansfield Park depicted at the end of this novel seems almost "doctrinaire," to quote Claudia L. Johnson, a concluding scene that "appears to let conservative ideologues have it their way." (4)

It is thus striking that Austen chooses to reintroduce the spatial perspective of landscape gardening into these final phrases--a profession that is critiqued elsewhere in the novel--positioning Fanny along with the parsonage and everything else she treasures "within the view and patronage of Mansfield." The views of and from landed estates are matters for heated debate in this novel, with Humphry Repton, Austen's contemporary and the most celebrated landscape designer of his day, invoked several times by name when the oafish Rushworth seeks to "improve" his estate. In a novel set among genteel country houses in early nineteenth-century England, it is not surprising that Repton's figure would appear or that Austen would use her last sentence to take the long view (as if from the house) of the property surrounding Mansfield. It is surprising, however, that Repton's landscapes--and the question of the novel's landscapes in general--have not figured more prominently in recent postcolonial analyses of Mansfield Park. Spurred initially by Edward Said's controversial interpretation of this novel, a small postcolonial industry has variably considered the imperialist implications of Austen's gender politics, her aesthetic practices, and her awareness of British abolitionist debates and the condition of slaves in Antigua, to mention just a few topics that have recently occupied critics of her work. (5) While such critics have opened up important issues in our consideration of Austen's fiction, however, they have tended on the whole to read between the lines and in the margins--focusing on the novel's "silences" about Sir Thomas's Antiguan holdings and slavery in the Leeward Islands, for example--rather than analyzing the territory that is directly portrayed. (6) Said himself, in his powerful but relatively limited analysis of Mansfield Park, actually says more about what he calls "social space" than he does about the novel's "casual references to Antigua." "Underlying social space," he insists, "are territories, lands, geographical domains, the actual geographical underpinnings of the imperial, and also the cultural contest." (7) Developing Raymond Williams's exploration of related issues in The Country and the City, this aspect of Said's work has received scant notice in literary studies compared to the emphasis on discourse analysis of "otherness" in its various forms and upon the oversights of Western literature, most notably its failures to represent "others" around the globe.

When we do look carefully at the novel's views of Sotherton and Mansfield--when we assume, that is, Austen's ocular stance in relation to English landscape--the view that comes into focus is startlingly clarified and starkly challenging to both the dominant ideologies of her day and our own retrospective view of this novel. In an age when "improvement" was central to Britain's imperial ambitions and when large estates were perceived as symbols of empire, it is crucial that we understand how such improvement was conceived and executed domestically as well as globally. As I argue here, the Sotherton episode is key to the novel's perspective on empire because it exposes and critiques the aesthetic, geographical, and epistemological premises that ground the imperialist sensibility of Rushworth and his associates. And by framing these issues with precise authorial control and self-reflexive awareness of her own aesthetic medium, Austen resists the facile subsumption of both landscapes and novels into dominant discourses of power.


As the self-styled successor to Capability Brown (whose landscapes he was sometimes called upon to update), Humphry Repton dominated his profession in Georgian England and was the designer du jour for the landed aristocracy as well as country squires and some newly successful professionals at the turn of the century. Repton's fashionability is confirmed by Rushworth and Henry Crawford, his spokesmen in the novel; as Alistair Duckworth suggests, their championship of Repton might be seen as Austen's dig at trendiness and radicalism in favor of deeper-seated social and moral traditions. (8) My purpose here, though, is not to determine whether Austen's own aesthetic may be affiliated more fully with Repton's practices or with other schools of landscape design--the "picturesque" school, for example, or the newer "gardenesque," as has been suggested. (9) Instead, my purpose is to show how the novel understands its culture's uses of landscape and improvement. As geographer Stephen Daniels has argued, landscape not only bespoke a gentleman's stature but also, "as a material terrain and mode of representation, was central to the sensibility of polite society in later Georgian England; it was a cultural arena for its most pressing concerns, a field of inquiry, debate, and conflict." (10)

Mansfield Park's representation of such inquiry and debate is significant because it speaks not only to landscape in Georgian England but more broadly to the perception and improvement of landscape in an age of empire. The notion of landscape improvement is first introduced by Rushworth, who bemoans the dark, dismal air of Sotherton, his family seat, compared to Compton, the estate of his friend Smith. Sotherton, he says, '"wants improvement ... beyond any thing. I never saw a place that wanted so much improvement in my life'" (81). His comments occasion a conversation about "improvement," an idea whose implications extend beyond the realm of landscape gardening. Improvement, explains Daniels, "meant progressively restructuring the landscape for social and economic as well as aesthetic ends and, by extension, restructuring the conduct of those who lived in, worked in and looked upon it." (11) One of Repton's key principles--the importance of prospects--demonstrates this notion of improvement. "The view from the principal apartments [of an estate]," Repton writes, "should bear some proportion to the importance of the house itself; not so much in the quantity or extent of the prospect as in the nature of the objects which compose the scenery." (12) Repton suggests here that the composition of the view from the house, including the material objects that constitute this view, should be improved in relation to the landowner's social prominence.

In the novel's initial dialogue about improvement at Sotherton, Austen's characters voice similar concerns. Most immediately striking is the alignment of improvement with the vast spaces of a provincial estate. '"You have space to work upon [at Sotherton],'" observes Aunt Norris, '"and grounds that will well reward you. For my own part, if I had any thing within the fiftieth part of the size of Sotherton, I should be always planting and improving, for naturally I am excessively fond of it. It would be too ridiculous for me to attempt anything where I am now, with my little half acre'" (81). Rushworth underscores Aunt Norris's conviction, confirming that at Sotherton, there is "'a good seven hundred'" acres (83), a much vaster extent than the 100 acres at Compton. The conversation also suggests a concept of improvement that is radical in scope. "'Two or three fine old trees'" (83) had already been cut down at Sotherton, Rushworth acknowledges, anticipating that the entire grove of trees lining the avenue would be felled in order to open up the prospect and the view of the house from afar, a potential change he describes as quite Reptonian.

Maria Bertram, soon to be Sotherton's mistress, raises related points when she takes an excursion to the estate with her siblings, the Crawfords, and Fanny Price in order to view its grounds and discuss possibilities. As the party approaches Sotherton, Maria demonstrates her own understanding of what "improvement" means. Improvement, first of all, takes in the village surrounding the estate: the "objects which compose the scenery," that is (to use Repton's phrase), and which are viewed from the house. (13) "'Those cottages are really a disgrace,"' Maria notes. But '"[t]he church spire,"' she continues, "'is reckoned remarkably handsome.'" The parsonage also is "'tidy looking,"' she says, and there is "'some fine timber'" in the park surrounding the house itself (107). Here Maria makes a mental list of essential improvements, largely with an eye toward aesthetic modification in order to enhance the stature of the family seat and its occupants. Unlike Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch, Maria exhibits no concern for her tenants or other neighbors, except to the extent that they might hamper views from the house or otherwise inconvenience its occupants.

To some degree, the ideas for improvement voiced by Rushworth, Maria, and Henry Crawford do reflect those advanced by Repton in his early writing about landscape design when he modeled his own career more closely on Brown's than he did later. The very repetition of words like "prospect," "view," and "survey" in the Sotherton episode highlights this affiliation. One of Repton's greatest concerns was the view of the estate, and the inhabitants' views from the house, with the landscape designer's central task to "improve" those views in proportion to the social stature of his clients. "It is not from the situation only that the character of [an estate] derives its greatness," Repton wrote. "The command of adjoining property, the style and magnitude of the mansion ... and all its appendages, contribute to confer that degree of importance which ought here to be the leading object in every plan of improvement." (14) While Repton emphasized utility in his landscapes--the placement of the kitchen garden, for example, had to be near the great house, even if it was then concealed for aesthetic reasons--and while he began to question the emphasis on an open prospect that he had inherited from Brown, he nonetheless privileged the view of an expansive, coherent, harmonious landscape, especially in his early writing. (15) In fact, one of his four "requisites" of the best landscape gardening was "the appearance of extent and freedom," which could be accomplished "by carefully disguising or hiding the boundary" of the estate to make it appear limitless. (16) While Repton emphasized the character of a property as well as its extent, he initially followed Brown in viewing improvement largely as a means to affirm the social and economic stature of his clients by enhancing the prospect of and from their estates. Repton's ideas continued to circulate, moreover, even as Uvedale Price countered his prominence with notions of the "picturesque," and, in the early nineteenth century, J. C. Loudon advanced an aesthetic he called the "gardenesque."

Obviously, such goals are perfectly consistent with the self-important views of Rushworth and Maria Bertram and their sense of Sotherton's potential grandeur. What is most striking here, though, is not the Reptonian features of their ideas per se but the blunt, almost brutal, proprietary sensibility they exude. "The first essential of greatness in a place," Repton wrote, "is the appearance of united and uninterrupted property." (17) As the party approaches Sotherton, Maria echoes this veneration of expansive property, repeatedly pointing out the extent of Rush worth's lands and observing the dilapidated cottages with an eye toward improvements that will reflect better on her fiance's family seat. In this, she echoes the ideas not only of Brown and the early Repton but of many landscape designers of the late eighteenth century. Thomas Whately, for example, the author of the widely read Observations on Modern Gardening, urged the alteration of the surrounding riding in order "to extend the idea of a seat, and appropriate a whole country to the mansion." (18) Like Whately, moreover, Repton described his profession as a deceptive one. "[I]n landscape gardening," he writes, "everything may be called a deception by which we endeavour to conceal the agency of art, and make our works appear the sole product of nature." (19) If nature was his standard, Repton was straightforward about the artifice of the product he fabricated for his clients.

Repton's comments here--especially his multiple emphases on nature, culture, and artifice--register the complex cultural, symbolic, and ideological weight that is borne by the very concept of landscape. At once material and organic, landscapes are also symbolically coded and variably interpreted in different cultural and disciplinary arenas, and these meanings overlap and compete in discordant ways. Landscapes "may be represented in a variety of materials and on many surfaces," note Daniels and Denis Cosgrove, "--in paint on canvas, in writing on paper, in earth, stone, water and vegetation on the ground. A landscape park is more palpable but no more real, nor less imaginary, than a landscape painting or poem." (20) Within fields of aesthetic inquiry, W. J. T. Mitchell has explored the imperial ramifications of landscape with perhaps the greatest sophistication. Understanding landscape not merely as a painterly genre, he sees it instead "as a medium, a vast network of cultural codes" that includes not only paintings but also film, theater, music, writing, and landscape gardening itself. By using "medium" rather than "genre" as his key methodological concept, Mitchell is able to pry apart the idea and practices of landscape from the criterion of naturalness that has vexed many discussions of it, the insistence that landscape is "'true' to some sort of nature, [especially] to universal structures of 'Ideal' nature." (21) Thinking of landscape as a network rather than an aesthetic artifact also enables him to describe its imperial tendencies. "Empires move outward in space as a way of moving forward in time," Mitchell writes; "the 'prospect' that opens up is not just a spatial scene but a projected future of 'development' and exploitation." (22)

Mitchell's notion of an imperial prospect, with its encoded qualities of development and exploitation, captures precisely the notion of "improvement" as it was conceived by many wealthy landowners at the turn of the century. On the face of it, however, Repton's sense of his landscapes as products or commodities seems to counter Mitchell's claim that a process of naturalization is key to the ideological power of landscape in Western culture, whether painting or land itself is in question. Like Henry Crawford and Maria Bertram (if not the dim-witted Rushworth), Repton demonstrates an acute, canny awareness of artifice: the use of windows as framing devices, for instance, to create expansive, harmonious pictures of his clients' domains from their homes. In Mansfield Park, with the chief problem of Sotherton its concave situation, Crawford exhibits a similar awareness, "looking grave and shaking his head at the windows" when he realizes that the "situation of the house excluded the possibility of much prospect from any of the rooms" (110). Neither Repton nor Crawford are under any illusions about the goal of their "improvements," nor do they voice any naive or even sophisticated devotion to notions of "pure nature." They are masters of their medium, in other words, designers with a canny sense of effect. As Repton bluntly writes, "Gardens are works of art rather than of nature." (23)

What is naturalized in such views, however, is the unquestioned proprietary right of Rushworth to alter the landscape--a landscape that includes entire families and villages--to suit both his optical and social perspective. His perspective, in short, is imperialist in its sensibility, and it is echoed variably in Britain during this era of imperial expansion. As Rachel Crawford has noted, "the country estate had become an emblem of empire" in this period. (24) As the largest landowner in the region, Rushworth can claim the view for his own, fabricating a prospect that is both spatial and temporal in its reach; he and like-minded improvers prefigure the Victorian explorers typified by Richard Burton and analyzed by Mary Louise Pratt as "monarchs" of all they survey, a familiar trope in Victorian travel writing. (25) If Rushworth seeks to be master only of the next riding and not colonial territory abroad, his thirst for improvement is nonetheless implicated in the sense of natural and noble entitlement that motivated much of England's imperial expansion in the eighteenth and especially the nineteenth centuries. Indeed, as Richard Drayton has argued, the very concept of "improvement" writ large was central to George ill's imperial ambitions and to the establishment of Kew Gardens in the late eighteenth century; for the king and Joseph Banks, his collaborator at Kew, commodities produced by means of "improved" agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry were "tokens of the righteousness of property and empire." (26) At Sotherton, on a smaller (but still enormous) scale, Rushworth voices similar convictions. Just as overt imperialists often presumed the rightness of their perspectives on conquered or newly explored colonial territories, so Rushworth is vexed by no self-doubts about the extensive alterations of a territory he shared with many other Britons; indeed, in his worldview, his view constitutes the world.

In his later years, Repton expressed a newfound ambivalence about the vast prospects he had crafted for wealthy clients during his early career. This ambivalence was prompted in part by a decline in large commissions after the Napoleonic wars reduced the demand for expansive landscape improvements. In Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, his final work, Repton writes with both poignancy and resentment about the decline of landscape gardening under "the influence of war, and war taxes," bemoaning what he perceived as the deleterious rise of new money. Landscape gardening and related pursuits, he insists, has "languished under the impoverishment of the country, while the sudden acquirement of riches, by individuals, has diverted wealth into new channels; men are solicitous to increase property rather than to enjoy it; they endeavour to improve the value, rather than the beauty, of their newly purchased estates." (27) The thirst for wealth, moreover, was not confined to the nouveau riche but had infected the aristocratic classes that had been his original patrons. "This eager pursuit of gain," Repton writes, "has, of late, extended from the new proprietor, whose habits have been connected with trade, to the ancient hereditary gentleman, who, condescending to become his own tenant, grazier, and butcher, can have little occasion for the landscape gardener: he gives up beauty for gain, and prospect for the produces of his acres." (28) While Repton writes, with some bitterness, from the perspective of someone whose fortunes were tied to the fate of a declining aristocracy, his late work nonetheless confirms the imperial sensibility that had characterized both his clients and the prospects he had created for them, a sensibility that is embodied by Crawford and Rushworth in Mansfield Park.

In the Fragments, however, Repton also explores different, smaller vistas with respect and admiration, revealing a changed outlook that challenges his earlier eagerness to please wealthy clients. On the one hand, he maintains an emphasis on the "imaginary extent of freedom" and "invisible lines of separation, by a ha! ha! or sunk fences" as "[t]he first of the great requisites in English gardening." (29) He also continues to lament the "whitewashed scars" of "mean tenements" that had come to prevail in manufacturing districts and mar the prospects from great estates. (30) On the other hand, he cautions readers repeatedly throughout the Fragments not to "substitute greatness of dimensions for greatness of character" and to avail themselves of "every circumstance of interest or beauty within our reach" rather than grasping for wealth or cultivating the pretense of vast properties. (31) Perhaps most significantly, he begins to distinguish between "landscape" and "garden," the two key terms of his profession, disconnecting their practices and professing a growing preference for smaller, contained gardens over vast landscapes. In part, this preference emerged--as Repton acknowledged--from his own professional and personal decline late in life: "when no longer able to undertake the more extensive plans of landscape," he writes, "I was glad to contract my views within the narrow circle of the garden, independent of its accompaniment of distant scenery." (32) But his exploration of them as separate entities bespeaks a more sophisticated awareness of their aesthetic conventions and a deepened authority over the tools of his trade. This new, tenuously expressed perspective distances the later Repton from his self-appointed spokespeople in Mansfield Park and, as I will show, complicates the novel's uses of him.


If the imperial prospect from Sotherton's great house relies on the erasure of boundaries, entering the landscape from the house restores them in a confounding maze of walls, paths, doors, gates, enclosures, and ha-has. Leaving the house for the grounds, the Sotherton party first walks onto a lawn, which is "bounded on each side by a high wall, contained beyond the first planted area, a bowling-green, and beyond the bowling-green a long terrace walk, backed by iron palissades [sic], and commanding a view over them into the tops of the trees of the wilderness immediately adjoining" (115). Confined by the seemingly impenetrable series of walls and fences, the party initially walks about the terrace enjoying the view of treetops, content to remain in the parterred, constructed portion of the grounds. Eventually, though, Edmund, Fanny, Mary Crawford, and other members of the party venture through an unlocked door and down a long staircase into the cool, wooded "wilderness." Though the wilderness is man-made, "a planted wood of about two acres ... laid out with too much regularity," it offers "darkness and shade, and natural beauty, compared with the bowling-green and the terrace" (116). Trespassing its boundaries also throws the excursion into a state of confusion and distress: decorum is violated, relationships are sundered and reformed, and the members of the party lose each other several times over.

This suggestive, ambiguous scene has attracted several critics, with sexuality and gendered decorum receiving special attention. (33) Clearly, it is also nourished by a long literary history in which dense woods and disoriented relationships are conventions of romantic comedy. The considerable confusion of boundaries in Mansfield Park is occasioned by entering "the wilderness, " a space whose liminal landscape has not yet been persuasively analyzed. Man-made and yet "natural" (116), planted but overgrowing with unpruned "verdure" (120), the wilderness seems to confound the categories of art and nature that Repton had wielded so deftly. Indeed, its own liminality promotes a sense of disorientation that not only muddies the clear sightlines sought by many landscape improvers but also seems to challenge the very standards of normative perception. "'[W]e must have walked at least a mile in this wood,'" says Mary Crawford after a prolonged period of walking and conversation; "'We have taken such a very serpentine course.'" Challenging her estimate, Edmund attempts to reestablish the wood's boundaries and calculable formulas of temporal and spatial values. "'But if you remember, before we left that first great path, we saw directly to the end of it,'" he says, "'We looked down the whole vista, and saw it closed by iron gates, and it could not have been more than a furlong in length.... Do you think we are walking four miles an hour?'" Mary Crawford challenges his estimates in turn, rejecting his judgment not only of distance but also of time: "'Oh! do not attack me with your watch. . . . I cannot be dictated to by a watch'" (118-19). Like Alice in the Looking-Glass garden, they cannot find their bearings or even trust their usual judgments of time and place.

Their exchange highlights the distinctions between spatial and temporal perception in the wilderness and at the center of Sotherton, where the great house dictates the perspective. If expansion in space and development over time are encoded by imperial prospects, as Mitchell suggests, the wilderness confounds those qualities, creating a dim, disordered space in which the naturalized ontological categories that order Reptonian perspectives are called into question. Significantly, this ontological disorder is provoked when the excursionists inhabit the landscape, so to speak, when, that is, they are portrayed as encountering actual plants, trees, and earth rather than viewing them from afar. In this context of immersion within the landscape, the ideological and symbolic codes that have enabled them to interpret (and own) the landscape-as-prospect are no longer in effect, and the excursionists literally lose themselves. As many cultural geographers have recently argued, landscapes are not merely aesthetic objects to be analyzed or symbolic texts to be read; they are also "substantive," to invoke Kenneth Olwig's word, a term he uses to indicate the "contested" quality of landscape and to recover its historical depths of meaning. "Landscape," for Olwig, denotes neither a return to "pure" nature, nor a symbolic vista to be read, nor a naively understood plot of ground to be occupied. It is instead a complex "nexus" of these (and more) meanings and uses, and that "nexus" shifts and changes as people inhabit, use, and shape the land. (34) While Olwig's concept of landscape-as-nexus has certain affinities with Mitchell's idea of landscape-as-medium, Olwig maintains a crucial emphasis on people's constitutive interactions, an emphasis that sharply distinguishes his notion of "substantive" landscape from Mitchell's description of landscape as "the 'dreamwork' of imperialism." (35) When we think of landscape not only as a symbolically and ideologically charged medium or vista but also as "substantive" in Olwig's sense, ontological categories are indeed disordered. When we consider people's immersion in landscape, that is, we are prompted to notice how they interact with other objects in the landscape, both organic and non-organic, thereby (re) creating both the landscape and themselves.

In Mansfield Park, such interactions foster the sense of confusion experienced by the excursionists. When Mary Crawford notes the "serpentine" path she, Edmund, and Fanny have taken, she attributes her feelings to their wanderings in the "wood" they had previously surveyed from the parterre above. "'Oh! I know nothing of your furlongs,'" she says to Edmund, who has attempted to impose rational modes of measurement, "'but I am sure it is a very long wood, and that we have been winding in and out ever since we came into it; and therefore when I say that we have walked a mile in it, I must speak within compass'" (119). Mary's experience of wandering among trees, rather than viewing them from a distance, violates a number of predictable codes and connections. Most obviously, she resists Edmund's "furlong" as a unit to measure linear distance. But their exchange within the wood also highlights Edmund's neglect of Fanny and growing attachment to Mary, a realignment of relationships that has problematic consequences in the novel. As "vibrant, powerful markers of place," trees are potent objects in a landscape, objects that mark the "ongoing embedded interconnections of things and people mixing together in ways which mark each other and bind each other." (36) For Mary and Edmund, walking in the landscape, among the trees, promotes a new awareness of their own spatial and personal positions--and a readiness to explore new modes of grasping them. Leaving Fanny behind, they finally decide to assess their situation experientially, without recourse to usual measurements: "At last it was agreed that they should endeavour to determine the dimensions of the wood by walking a little more about it. They would go to one end of it, in the line they were then in ... and perhaps turn a little way in some other direction, if it seemed likely to assist them, and be back in a few minutes" (120). Altered by their interactions in the forest, they take alternative paths without knowing their precise direction or destination.

Throughout this episode, the usually clear-sighted Fanny Price remains stationary and seated in the wilderness, pointing the way, delivering messages from one erring individual to another, and generally serving as the directional and moral compass for everyone else. But even Fanny has trouble seeing and hearing in the wilderness. The overshadowing verdure, for example, prevents her from keeping track of Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford even after they have cleared the fence and entered the parkland beyond in renewed search of an open prospect. "By taking a circuitous, and as it appeared to her, very unreasonable direction to the knoll," the narrator writes, "they were soon beyond [Fanny's] eye; and for some minutes longer she remained without sight or sound of any companion" (123). The contrast between the sunlight of the terrace and the darkness of the wilderness, moreover, is underscored in this entire episode, generating an ontological anxiety that is pervasive and significant. Viewing the landscape from a commanding high place (like the terrace) is a productive vantage point for "fault-finding" (115) and spotting elements that are out of place in the scene created by an imperialist perspective like Rushworth's. Near or within a landscape, however, objects look different and distances collapse and expand unpredictably. Indeed, it could be argued that the very concept of landscape in the Sotherton sense vanishes upon closer inspection, its component parts coherent only within the harmonizing, naturalizing optical perspective of the proprietary viewer.

The wilderness episode challenges the standards of perception by means of a representational and geographical discourse that is identifiable in the works of nineteenth-century naturalists and geographical explorers, a discourse that illuminates Olwig's sense of "substantive" landscape. Luciana Martins has argued persuasively that the writing of British explorers has been analyzed too rigidly as the product of a homogenous, imperializing gaze rather than as the record of a complex, plural perspective. (37) While Martins focuses primarily on Darwin's work, such plurality is also apparent in the writing of Alexander von Humboldt, who later inspired Darwin and whose Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent had been translated into English and was widely read in the early nineteenth century. In this text, Humboldt expresses a disorienting sense of space and scale when he first experiences tropical forests, a sense he contrasts explicitly with European modes of perception and aestheticized nature. "When a traveller newly arrived from Europe penetrates for the first time into the forests of South America," he writes,
   nature presents herself to him under an unexpected aspect. The
   objects that surround him recall but feebly those pictures, which
   celebrated writers have traced on the banks of the Mississippi, in
   Florida, and in other temperate regions of the new world. He feels
   at every step, that he is not on the confines, but in the centre of
   the torrid zone.... If he feel strongly the beauty of picturesque
   scenery, he can scarcely define the various emotions, which crowd
   upon his mind. (38)

In the "centre" rather than on the "confines" of the "torrid zone," Humboldt cannot gain perspective in the Western rationalizing sense: he cannot, that is, step back from his experience within the landscape to achieve a structured, naturalized sense of coherence, seeing and sensing instead an "unexpected aspect." And when he explicitly distinguishes this "aspect" from the "pictures" drawn by "celebrated writers," he discards the optical standard so crucial to Western modernity and its modes of perception. What strikes him about the "torrid zone," moreover, is the verdure and lushness of the vegetation, so thick that it "scarcely admit[s] a glimpse of the sky" and so disorienting that he can "scarcely define the various emotions, which crowd upon his mind." (39) Faced with the botanic profusion and excess of the tropical forest, Humboldt is altered by his experience of immersion in a substantive landscape, just as Mary, Fanny, and Edmund are altered by their more limited sojourn in the Sotherton "wilderness." Side-by-side with these expressions of confusion in Humboldt's work, however, are more familiar uses of the aestheticized language of landscape-as-prospect, language that he explicitly invokes as a way of organizing his confused perceptions. "Between the tropics ... in the lower regions of both Indies, every thing in nature appears new and marvellous," he writes. "In the open plains, and amid the gloom of forests, almost all the remembrances of Europe are effaced; for it is the vegetation that determines the character of a landscape, and acts upon our imagination by it's [sic] mass, the contrast of it's [sic] forms, and the glow of it's [sic] colours." (40) Although Humboldt here explicitly distances himself from European contexts, his framing of this scene nonetheless places it securely within a European aesthetic tradition. His Romantic emphasis on the imagination, first of all, acknowledges the viewer's role in shaping the scene, while his attention to "mass," "contrast," and the "glow of ... colours" demonstrates his allegiance to painterly values. As Martins notes about Darwin, the aestheticized language many nineteenth-century naturalists used is derived in part (and as we might expect) from familiar early nineteenth-century European concepts of the sublime and the picturesque. (41) Humboldt's attention to the multiple, intricate textures and shapes of tropical flora, for example--the "lianas [that] creep on the ground, reach the tops of the trees, and pass from one to another at the height of more than a hundred feet"--would have appealed greatly to Uvedale Price, whose Essays on the Picturesque set the standard for picturesque landscaping and who waged a public aesthetic war with Repton over the canons of landscape improvement. (42) Price valued the qualities of contrast, intimacy, and intricacy (as opposed to Repton's emphasis on sweeping views and limitless parklands), and his descriptions of viney overgrowth and mossy decay in the English forest--the "wild roses ... honeysuckles, periwincles [sic], and other trailing plants, which with their flowers and pendent branches have quite a different effect when hanging loosely"--share many features with Humboldt's descriptions of plants in tropical forests. (43) If Humboldt uses familiar aesthetic tropes, however, his discomposed sense of place and scale distinguishes his perceptions sharply from the complacently dominant perspective manifested by Henry Crawford and Rushworth at Sotherton, and even from Price's confident assertions against Repton's carefully cultivated parklands. Instead, Humboldt feels reduced, amazed, and confused, the tropical forest acting upon his imagination (to invoke his own phrase) in ways that parallel the effects of the wilderness in Mansfield Park.

In drawing this connection, I am not suggesting that the wilderness should be understood as a symbolic "torrid zone," though "torrid zones," like Austen's wilderness, were often represented in nineteenth-century texts as spaces where the usual norms of decorum and restraint are relaxed. (44) Nor am I positing a direct causal connection from Humboldt to Austen, as if Mansfield Park were written under the influence of Humboldt's Personal Narrative. Instead, I want to emphasize their shared emphasis on the effects of immersion in a substantive landscape, effects that destabilize the imperial authority of the landscape-as-prospect that Rushworth and Repton both sought to create. Like Mansfield Park, Humboldt's Personal Narrative presents a sharp contrast between the familiar, conventionalized epistemological categories and those experienced in the new, unfamiliar zone. Just as Humboldt experiences this sense of disorientation promptly upon entering the tropical forest, so Edmund, Fanny, and Mary Crawford experience it as soon as they have taken the staircase down into the wilderness where the long, framed views of Reptonian landscape are no longer possible. Like the conduct of everyone passing through the wilderness, these views are unsettled and discomposed, the perspective that was taken for granted now up for grabs. The wilderness, we might say, challenges Rushworth's ostensibly natural right to claim the landscape perspective for his own and sculpt it as he will.

Even as imperial frameworks are challenged, however, Western aesthetics are still in play. My argument is not that Austen and Humboldt demolish the symbolic landscape of empire by entering real ones, but that they recognize the potency of landscape as both substance and symbol, and thereby unsettle the expectations of people like Rushworth who claim a proprietary right to shape landscape to their liking, without regard for the other flora and fauna that also constitute it. Striking about both Humboldt's torrid zone and Austen's wilderness are their sharp demarcations from the more predictably grasped spaces that precede them in the respective narratives, with the new zones separated from the old by distinct boundaries. Leaving Europe and his familiar surroundings, Humboldt speaks of entering and walking beneath "arcades" composed of lianas, pothos, and other trailing plants, while Fanny, Edmund, and Mary enter the wooded wilderness through a literal door (116). (45) One (predictable) way of thinking about these boundaries, of course, is that the startling new zones represent the contrasting primal "other" that is separated from safely knowable, Westernized spaces: to Europe in Humboldt's case and to the sunlit terrace in Austen's. (46) Obviously, though, these boundaries are also literary devices that call attention to their framing capacities. And as such, they show how the disordered new landscapes are no less framed than the old ones: just as Rushworth surveys his domains through the window frames of his country estate, so too Humboldt and the Sotherton excursionists are enticed by "doors" and "arcades," peeking through them to gaze at the new landscapes before entering unknown territories. Indeed, both novel and travel narrative draw on the well-worn trope of the garden door, a still-resonant trope that has aesthetically organized writing about gardens as well as gardens themselves for centuries, with Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden providing only the best-known example. Here, the trope points both to itself, as a literary device, and to the landscape on the other side, a landscape that is, paradoxically, both bound by its frame and beyond its own framework: at once both symbol and substance.

The doors and windows that frame landscapes in both of these texts are significant because they foreground the epistemological instability that characterized the concept of landscape in this period, an instability related to what Rachel Crawford calls "the crisis over boundaries." (47) If the doors lead to substantive landscapes that challenge the authority of imperial landscapes, they also show how substantive landscapes are themselves framed and mutable. And if "substantive" as I use it here suggests the "nexus" of people, creatures, objects, and symbols that constitute landscape, the act of passing through those doors emphasizes the interactions that in turn enable landscapes to shift and even escape established frameworks. For geographers Claudio Minca and Franco Farrinelli, Humboldt maintains this epistemological instability at the heart of his geographical project, and they understand his concept of landscape as "a way of knowing" rather than as a scenic view or a plot of land, a mode of interpretation that is acutely aware of its aims and methods, and thus predicated upon the disclosure of epistemologies that maintain power. (48) Writing in a different genre, Austen nonetheless shares Humboldt's project of challenging the powers-that-be, in her case the imperial authority of people like Rushworth and landscapes like Sotherton's, by wielding aesthetic conventions with self-reflexive wit. It could be argued, in fact, that the genre of the nineteenth-century novel was peculiarly equipped to implement this project, supremely aware as it was of its epistemological modes and representational conventions, a project that is far larger than the scope of this essay but one that would entail a reconception of Said's controversial but (in my mind) persuasive association of the nineteenth-century novel with empire. Certainly, in Austen's controlled hands, novels do not unreflexively submit to authority, imperial or otherwise, as Mansfield Park so persuasively shows.


Following the disorder of the Sotherton excursion, further improvement--of any site--is not a foregone conclusion. Even the zealous improver Henry Crawford acknowledges in hindsight, "'I cannot say there was much done at Sotherton; but it was a hot day, and we were all walking after each other and bewildered'" (256). A while after the Sotherton excursion, moreover, Edmund expresses his ambitions for Thornton Lacey, the site of his first parsonage, with a healthy skepticism for Reptonian principles. When Crawford sketches a grand plan for improvement--one that will take at least "'five summers'" and make Thornton Lacey into "'the residence of a man of education, taste, modern manners, [and] good connections'" (253, 255)--Edmund objects strenuously. His protest squares with Fanny's convictions about landscape. When Rushworth first contemplates modifications to Sotherton, including the possibility of felling an arboreal avenue, Fanny is stricken: "'Cut down an avenue! What a pity!'" she moans to Edmund, "'Does it not make you think of Cowper? "Ye fallen avenues, once more I mourn your fate unmerited.'" (83). As a vocal late eighteenth-century critic of improvement, the poet Thomas Cowper pointedly censured Capability Brown in his poem The Task (from which Fanny quotes) for commercializing the English landscape. And as Tim Fulford has argued, Cowper used his poetry "to challenge ... the values of the landed interest" and to politicize the despoliation of English woodlands. (49) Fanny's admiration of him, and Edmund's cautious acquiescence, thus position them as quiet co-conspirators against the imperial modes of improvement represented by the likes of Rushworth.

It may nonetheless be presumed that Fanny and Edmund undertake their own bit of improvement when they finally accede to the living at the Mansfield parsonage. While the novel does not explicitly draw that conclusion, it does give voice to a more restricted model of improvement in Edmund's initial vision for Thornton Lacey, one that involves moving the farmyard from the front approach to the parsonage (presumably to spare visitors the views, and smells, of barnyard animals) but one that also advances a criterion of "comfort" (252, 253) rather than social importance. It is, moreover, a model that befits the restricted means and property of a cleric, a second son who would presumably never acquire the vast expanse of an estate like Sotherton. This restricted vision correlates with the containment of space and a growing taste for smaller gardens that evolved slowly over the course of the eighteenth century and was solidified by the beginning of the nineteenth century, as Rachel Crawford has demonstrated. Reflected in the horticultural aesthetic of Loudon and even Repton in his later years, the taste for smaller, "vernacular" landscapes was more in tune with the means and activities of "ordinary people," says Crawford, and they were spaces that challenged the authority of imperial landscapes as I have characterized them in this essay. (50) Once again, then, Austen resists precise categorization, prohibiting any easy equation of "improvement" with "empire" by personifying Edmund as his own sort of improver. "'[H]ad I a place to new fashion, I should not put myself into the hands of an improver,'" he offers during initial discussions of Sotherton, "'I would rather have an inferior degree of beauty, of my own choice, and acquired progressively'" (84). He plans, like Rushworth, to "fashion" his smaller, more restricted property; unlike Rushworth, however, he will presumably do so with a fuller awareness of the landscape as constituted by the relationships of its inhabitants, an awareness that can only be achieved "progressively," as people, animals, plants, and objects interact over time.

Edmund's vision of improvement squares with the more contained vision with which Repton concluded his career and his final work, Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Calling it "the most interesting subject [he has] ever known," Repton describes "the view from the humble cottage to which, for more than thirty years, I have anxiously retreated from the pomp of palaces, the elegances of fashion, or the allurements of dissipation." Adapting a key term from his early career, he describes his "appropriation of twenty-five yards of garden"--a shift from the appropriation of an entire, apparently boundless landscape--and his delight in viewing "the cheerful village, the high road, and that constant moving scene." Most crucially, he discusses this more limited sense of appropriation in aesthetically self-reflexive ways, showing how his appropriation of the small garden provides "a frame to [his] landscape." Like Edmund's plans for Thornton Lacey, Repton's later, smaller vision seems to recognize and restrain the imperial perspective of people like Rushworth, in part by acknowledging (at least implicitly) the ideological ramifications of aesthetic conventions, including those governing the practices of landscape gardening as he knew it. As Repton writes at the very end of Fragments, he wants to see "the moving objects which animate the landscape," a goal that surely correlates with Edmund and Fanny's ambitions for Thornton Lacey within a substantive landscape. (51)

Contained landscapes of "ordinary people" are not anti-imperial in and of themselves, of course; nor are expansive modes of landscape cultivation or management inherently imperialist, no matter how large in scale. Austen understood, however, that conventions of different sorts--aesthetic, geographic, novelistic--may be used to variable political ends. And her astute views of landscape conventions in her period, as well as her aesthetic uses of them in Mansfield Park, reveal her to be a far more pointed critic of empire than postcolonial scholars have sometimes recognized. By perceiving and critiquing the epistemological categories that undergird the imperial prospects of Sotherton, Austen challenges the proprietary rights of large landowners to claim imperial authority over the workings of the substantive landscapes that surround their estates. By dissolving imperial prospects in the "wilderness" surrounding Sotherton, she questions the very ontologies of geography and subjectivity that motivate the larger imperial project. And by framing these issues with expert uses of satiric devices and literary tropes, she resists the facile subsumption of landscapes, both symbolic and substantive, into dominant discourses of power. This is not to say that Austen herself was a horticultural or agricultural radical who agitated (in her novels or elsewhere) for far-reaching land reform or redistribution of property. Far from it. As the figure of Fanny Price suggests, Austen maintained her own attachments to the English countryside, attachments that are themselves open to scrutiny and critique. To characterize Mansfield Park as fundamentally "conservative" or "imperialist," however, misunderstands Austen's canny views of landscapes in the novel, and underestimates her aesthetic uses of them.

In the very final sentence of the novel, as I mentioned at the outset of this essay, the narrative returns to "the view and patronage of Mansfield Park" (468). It returns, that is, to the prospect of landscape gardening, a prospect that was critiqued and thoroughly dismantled in the Sotherton episode. In her feminist analysis of this famously difficult novel, Johnson interprets Mansfield Park as Austen's most ironic novel and reads its final paragraphs as a "hyperconventional" parody of formulaic denouements that subverts the "moral polarities" on which the novel only seems to rest. (52) The undeniable awkwardness of the paragraph-long final sentence may be understood as similarly "hyperconventional," a sentence that unsettles Mansfield's "view and patronage" with a self-reflexive clumsiness and a corresponding refusal to grant that "view" any vestigial authority. Even as we recognize this closing example of Austen's authorial control, however, it is important that we not lose the final vantage point among accumulating subordinate clauses: the concluding prospect is not Fanny's view from the Mansfield estate, but the estate's view of Fanny and her household. As the new mistress of the parsonage, Fanny does not inhabit the great house but has instead become an element of its prospect, one of the "the moving objects which animate the landscape," as Repton puts it. (53) If this placement seems to reduce Fanny to an irremediable cypher, then the novel's perspective on landscape has not been grasped, nor have its epistemological critiques been comprehended. For as an acknowledged constituent of the landscape, rather than a distant observer, Fanny has been granted a substantive role to play in shaping her environment, ordering her own experience of it, and, most crucially, challenging imperial views that would obscure her place in its ongoing improvement.

University of Houston


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I am grateful to the Victorian Studies Seminar at Rice University for reading and discussing an earlier draft of this essay, with special thanks to Helena Michie for her encouragement and support.

(1.) See, for example, Alistair M. Duckworth, The Improvement of the Estate: A Study of Jane Austen's Novels (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971), 80; John Halperin, "The Trouble with Mansfield Park," Studies in the Novel 7, no. 1 (1975): 21-22; John Mee, "Austen's Treacherous Ivory: Female Patriotism, Domestic Ideology, and Empire," in The Postcolonial Jane Austen, eds. You-me Park and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan (London: Routledge, 2000), 83, 91; and Savi Munjal, "Imagined Geographies: Mapping the Oriental Habitus in Three Nineteenth-Century Novels," Postcolonial Text 4, no. 1 (2008): 4.

(2.) Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. June Sturrock (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2001), 468. Further references to the novel will be indicated by page number within the text of the essay.

(3.) Ferguson, "Mansfield Park: Slavery, Colonialism, and Gender," Oxford Literary Review 13, no. 1 (1991): 130. See also Munjal, "Imagined Geographies," 3-5.

(4.) Johnson, Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 119, 120.

(5.) Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1993), 80-97. For essays that build on Said's study, see George E. Boulukos, "The Politics of Silence: Mansfield Park and the Amelioration of Slavery," NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 39, no. 3 (Summer 2006): 361-83; Ferguson, "Slavery, Colonialism, and Gender"; Susan Fraiman, "Jane Austen and Edward Said: Gender, Culture, and Imperialism," Critical Inquiry 21, no. 4 (Summer 1995): 805-21; Munjal, "Imagined Geographies"; Mee, "Austen's Treacherous Ivory"; Peter Smith, "Mansfield Park and the World Stage," The Cambridge Quarterly 23, no. 3 (1994): 203-29; Brian Southam, "The Silence of the Bertrams," in Mansfield Park: Authoritative Texts, Contexts, Criticism, ed. Claudia L. Johnson (New York: Norton, 1998), 493-98; Clara Tuite, "Domestic Retrenchment and Imperial Expansion: The Property Plots of Mansfield Park," in The Postcolonial Jane Austen, 93-115; and Gabrielle D. V. White, Jane Austen in the Context of Abolition: "A Fling at the Slave Trade" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

(6.) John Wiltshire also notices postcolonial emphases on the novel's "silences," but our shared observation results in strikingly different arguments ("Decolonising Mansfield Park," Essays in Criticism 53, no. 4 [October 2003]: 313).

(7.) Said, Culture and Imperialism, 93, 78.

(8.) See Duckworth, Improvement of the Estate, 42-45.

(9.) P. Keiko Kagawa, "Jane Austen, The Architect: (Re)Building Spaces at Mansfield Park," Women's Studies 35, no. 2 (2006): 125-43.

(10.) Daniels, Humphry Repton: Landscape Gardening and the Geography of Georgian England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 2.

(11.) S. Daniels and S. Seymour, "Landscape Design and the Idea of Improvement 1730-1900," in An Historical Geography of England and Wales, 2nd ed., eds. R. A. Dodgshon and R. A. Butlin (London and New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990), 487.

(12.) Humphry Repton, The Landscape Gardening and Landscape Architecture of the Late Humphry Repton, Esq., Being His Entire Works on these Subjects, ed. J. C. Loudon (London: Longman and Co., 1840), 78, no/mode/2up, accessed 4 January 2013.

(13.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 78.

(14.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 47; original emphasis.

(15.) See Rachel Crawford, Poetry, Enclosure, and the Vernacular Landscape, 1700-1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 82-87, for an important analysis of Repton's modifications of Brown's views. Colin Winborn also suggests that Crawford and Rushworth are more Brownian than Reptonian in their views (The Literary Economy of Jane Austen and George Crabbe [Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, 2004], 135).

(16.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 84.

(17.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 92.

(18.) Thomas Whately, Observations on Modern Gardening, 4th ed. (London: T. Payne, 1777), 227; original emphasis, mode/2up, accessed 25 October 2012. As Crawford explains, Whately maintained his emphasis on open prospects even as the question of boundaries became problematic for him (72-81).

(19.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 76.

(20.) Daniels and Cosgrove, "Introduction: Iconography and Landscape," in The Iconography of Landscape: Essays on the Symbolic Representation, Design and Use of Past Environments, eds. Stephen Daniels and Denis Cosgrove (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1.

(21.) Mitchell, "Imperial Landscape," in Landscape and Power, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 13, 16.

(22.) Mitchell, "Imperial Landscape," 17.

(23.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 374. This sentence was emblazoned on the frontispiece illustration to Repton's Designs for the Pavilions at Brighton (1808).

(24.) Crawford, Poetry, Enclosure, and the Vernacular Landscape, 76.

(25.) Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992), 201-8.

(26.) Drayton, Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the "Improvement" of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 87.

(27.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 410; original emphasis.

(28.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 568.

(29.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 483.

(30.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 474.

(31.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 507, 469.

(32.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 525; original emphasis.

(33.) See, for example, Jill Heydt-Stevenson, "'Slipping into the Ha-Ha': Bawdy Humor and Body Politics in Jane Austen's Novels," Nineteenth-Century Literature 55, no. 3 (December 2000): 309-39; and Ruth Bernard Yeazell, "The Boundaries of Mansfield Park," Representations 7 (Summer 1984): 133-52.

(34.) Olwig, "Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape," Annals of the Association of American Geographers 86, no. 4 (December 1996): 630-31. For related discussions of the concept of landscape, see Stephen Daniels and Hayden Lorimer, "Until the End of Days: Narrating Landscape and Environment," Cultural Geographies 19, no. 1 (January 2012): 3-9; Hayden Lorimer, "Cultural Geography: The Busyness of Being 'More-than-Representational,'" Progress in Human Geography 29, no. 1 (2005): 83-94; and Claudio Minca, "Humboldt's Compromise, or the Forgotten Geographies of Landscape," Progress in Human Geography 31, no. 2 (April 2007): 179-93.

(35.) Mitchell, "Imperial Landscape," 10. Mitchell explicitly argues for an understanding of landscape as "a process by which social and subjective identities are formed" and aims to formulate a more "comprehensive model that would ask not just what landscape 'is' or 'means' but what it does, how it works as a cultural practice" (1). Such formulations do indeed affiliate Mitchell's ideas with those of Olwig, and we should think of cultural geographers like Olwig as amplifying rather than challenging Mitchell's understanding. Even so, it is important to note that Mitchell's own contribution to Landscape and Power focuses on two nineteenth-century painted landscapes, an aesthetic and imagistic focus which is replicated by every other essay in the collection.

(36.) Owain Jones and Paul Cloke, Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees and Trees in their Place (Oxford: Berg, 2002), 87, 88.

(37.) Martins, "A Naturalist's Vision of the Tropics: Charles Darwin and the Brazilian Landscape," Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 21, no. 1 (2000): 19-33.

(38.) Humboldt, Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, During the Years 1799-1804, vol. 3, 2nd ed., trans. Helen Maria Williams (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818), 35--36, 05humbgoog#page/n6/mode/2up, accessed 1 November 2012.

(39.) Humboldt, Personal Narrative, 36, 37, 36.

(40.) Humboldt, Personal Narrative, 354.

(41.) Martins, "A Naturalist's Vision of the Tropics," 20.

(42.) Humboldt, Personal Narrative, 37.

(43.) Uvedale Price, Essays on the Picturesque, vol. 1 (London: J. Mawman, 1810), 28, http://, accessed 6 November 2012.

(44.) See Nancy Leys Stepan, "Tropical Nature as a Way of Writing," in Mundializacion de la Ciencia y Cultura Nacional: actas del Congreso Internacional "Ciencia, Descubrimiento y Mundo Colonial," eds. A. Lafuente, A. Elena, and M. L. Ortega (Madrid: Doce Calles, 1993); Martins, "A Naturalist's Vision of the Tropics," 21-23; and Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 120-27.

(45.) Humboldt, Personal Narrative, 36-37.

(46.) Pratt argues that Humboldt constructed South American nature as "primal" (Imperial Eyes, 120-27).

(47.) Crawford, Poetry, Endosure, and the Vernacular Landscape, 74.

(48.) Minca, "Humboldt's Compromise," 184. Minca's argument draws directly on the ideas of geographer Franco Farrinelli, whose Italian-language works have largely not been translated into English. In following Farrinelli, Minca, and Martins, I understand Humboldt differently from Pratt, who argues that his Personal Narrative "naturalizes colonial relations and racial hierarchy" (130). While it may fulfill those functions at times, its perspectives are more plural and ambivalent than Pratt's assessment suggests.

(49.) Tim Fulford, Landscape, Liberty, and Authority: Poetry, Criticism and Politics from Thomson to Wordsworth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 53, 56.

(50.) Crawford, Poetry, Enclosure, and the Vernacular Landscape, 66. Loudon was also a developer of the nineteenth-century greenhouse space. For a recent study that persuasively analyzes Mansfield Park in relation to this aspect of Loudon's work, see Deidre Shauna Lynch, "'Young Ladies are Delicate Plants': Jane Austen and Greenhouse Romanticism," ELH 77, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 689-729.

(51.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 603-4; original emphasis.

(52.) Johnson, Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel, 115, 120.

(53.) Repton, Landscape Gardening, 604.
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Author:Voskuil, Lynn
Publication:Studies in Romanticism
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 22, 2014
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