Hybrid Gardens: Travel and the Nationalization of Taste in Ann Radcliffe's Continental Landscapes
This essay interprets Ann Radcliffe's revision of her continental settings as a response to the experience of European travel during the Revolutionary Wars of the 1790s. In Radcliffe's earlier novels, particularly The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), imaginary South European settings serve as a stage for fictional resolutions of British class conflicts. Following Radcliffe's only journey to the Continent, described in A Journey Made in the Summer of 1794 (1795), the setting of The Italian (1797) becomes more geographically specific, and the novel, while stereotyping Italy as its title suggests, includes cross-cultural representation involving British travelers and Italians. In the conclusion of the novel, Radcliffe superimposes an English garden onto an Italian landscape. I argue that Radcliffe's evolving treatment of landscapes in travel writing and fiction reflects the tension between nationalist and cosmopolitan attitudes toward the Continent that translated into competing standards of taste. These standards, which I illustrate with examples from landscape painting, travel writing, and the discourse of landscape aesthetics, invested landscapes with national values and inspired Radcliffe and other writers to differentiate between the British Isles and the Continent.
European Romantic Review
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)