“It was a sweet view – sweet to the eye and the mind.” Jane Austen og det pittoreske landskab
It is obvious in Jane Austen’s novels that she was interested in the ongoing debate of ’the picturesque garden’, and in all her novels the characters are discussing how to look at the landscape, how to ‘improve’ the estates according to certain rules, and how taste and moral are connected to each other. The picturesque garden is inspired by paintings from the 17th century by Claude Lorraine and Nicolas Poussin, and in that way a clear line can be drawn back to Theocritus and Virgil, who introduced topoi as ‘locus amoenus’ and the ‘pastoral’. This article is examining how the relation is between these topoi, which are ideal landscapes that only exist in literature and painting, and the discussions of the design of real physical landscapes of contemporary England. It is difficult to decide on which side Austen was in the discussions of the picturesque. The article concludes that Austen’s voice is to be heard in the narrative, the development of the characters, and that she ends up with an attempt to reach an authentic relationship with landscape and nature that foreshadows a romantic feeling of nature. An appendix shows the later reception of Austen’s relationship to landscape, by analyzing a scene from modern films based on Jane Austen’s novels.
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