Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory

The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite

Marjorie Hope Nicolson
Foreword by William Cronon

  • $32.95s paperback (9780295975771) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 1997
  • Subject Listing: History / Environmental History; Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 432 pp.
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Classics
  • Contents

To English poets and writers of the seventeenth century, as to their predecessors, mountains were ugly protuberances which disfigured nature and threatened the symmetry of earth; they were symbols God's wrath. Yet, less than two centuries later the romantic poets sang in praise of mountain splendor, of glorious heights that stirred their souls to divine ecstasy. In this very readable and fascinating study, Marjorie Hope Nicolson considers the intellectual renaissance at the close of the seventeenth century that caused the shift from mountain gloom to mountain glory. She examines various writers from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and traces both the causes and the process of this drastic change in perception.

"Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory has long been recognized by landscape historians and nature writers as a dazzling work of cultural history: fresh and original in its argument and acute in its critical intelligence. But it is also a wonderful adventure in reading, an exhilarating hike through the peaks and valleys of western modern sensibility."
-Simon Schama, author of Landscape and Memory

"Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory is a unique work of cultural history. I know of no book that provides a comparably lucid, well-documented, compelling demonstration of the far-reaching cultural consequences of changes in scientific conceptions of the universe. . . Nicolson demonstrates the power of abstract scientific thought to alter ideas, feelings, and, indeed, the very texture of human experience."
-Leo Marx, author of The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America

"This seminal work on nature and the sublime will remain a classic and a source of inspiration for generations to come."
-Barbara Novak, author of Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875

Foreword by William Cronon
The Literary Heritage
The Tehological Dilemma
New Philosophy
The Geological Dilemma
A Sacred Theory of the Earth
The Burnet Controversy
The Aesthetics of the Infinite
A New Descriptive Poetry