Landscape of the Antarctic, in the Journals of Ranulph Fiennes and Mike Stroud

By reference to critical and literary sources, identify one or more examples of ‘Nature as Symbol’ within twentieth-century culture. Consider the ways in which this symbol may have been constructed and reconstructed over time in European art and literature.

It is almost impossible for the conditioned twentieth-century mind to imagine the pre-romantic sentiments expressed by observers such as Dr Johnson who, travelling through the mountains of North Wales, was forced, by a mixture of distaste and awe, to shut out the landscape and close the blinds on his carriage. The horror which Johnson experienced must have been somewhat akin to that feeling during first viewings of films like Jaws, for instance, one must turn away at the crucial moment and ‘opt out’ of the dramatic involvement. Nowadays views of ‘dramatic’ landscapes are, it seems, two-a-penny, but why do we still refer to them as ‘dramatic’, and what is the current state of experience where the sublime is concerned?

Suffice to say, humankind has always had the narcissistic tendency to reflect itself of its surroundings, but the nature of the ‘wilderness’ which it works so hard to project, and consequently ‘protect’ is, now more than ever before, under the scrutiny of geographers and historicists alike. Steven Greenblatt’s article on the nature of wilderness is just one current example of how the wilderness works in the modern cultural environment:

At a certain point the asphalt stops, and you encounter a sign that tells you that you are entering the wilderness. You have passed then from the National Forests that surround the park – forests that serve principally as state subsidised nurseries for large timber companies and hence are not visibly distinguishable from the tracts of privately owned forest with which they are contiguous to the park itself, marked by the payment of admission to the uniformed ranger at the entrance kiosk, and finally to a third and privileged zone of publicly demarcated Nature. This zone, called the wilderness, is marked by the abrupt termination of the asphalt and by a sign that lists the rules of behaviour that you must now observe: no dogs, no littering, no fires, no camping without a permit, and so forth. The wilderness then is signalled by an intensification of the rules, an intensification that serves as the condition of an escape from the asphalt’.1

If ‘Nature’ is so publicly ‘demarcated’ in the twentieth century, is there any realm of ‘adventure’ which escapes this cultural containment, can speak to man on its own terms, resisting ‘prospective closure’, that has not been travelled time and time again by ‘tourists’ over the centuries? This question points to Ranulph Fiennes’ record of the first unsupported trans-antarctic manhaul as an obvious ground for the discussion of ‘wilderness’ as we know it. We may take the book as symptomatic of a modern perspective of ‘Nature’, being written in the nineteen-nineties, and it is of no small significance that the landscape described in the book is predominantly that of ‘whiteout’, as we ponder the question of what is ‘wilderness’, and how do ‘we know it’?

‘On 9 November 1992 Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr Michael Stroud attempted the first unassisted crossing of the Antarctic continent. Ninety-seven days later, more dead than alive, they achieved their aim.’

-So runs the ‘blurb’ on the glossy back cover of Ranulph Fiennes’ Mind Over Matter. The book is subtitled: ‘The Number One Best-Seller…His epic crossing of the Antarctic continent’, and other back-cover ‘blurb’ runs: ‘A journey to the limits of endurance and beyond’. This is not a book which is likely to be canonised amongst the greats of twentieth-century literature in English. It is nevertheless a best-seller, and is marketed as such by its ‘best-seller’ publishers, ‘Sinclair-Stevenson’; the reason for this is that the subject-matter consists of the re-enactment of the age-old adventure story which so prolificly dominates the minds of the people of post-imperial Britain. The book is the repackaging of picturesque, sublime, and epic experience of what could (dubiously) be dubbed ‘the last terrestrial frontier’, and the author relays ‘Anne Robinson in the Mirror – “That tiresome and unnecessary trek across Antarctica nearly cost them their lives”, and Margaret Maxwell of the Independent on “how pointless it all was”‘(p237). Many would say it is flippant to regard this near-death experience as a sublime adventure, and agree with Lord Hunt, the leader of the first ascent of Mount Everest, that :

‘It ill-becomes Ms Maxwell to question the motives underlying this astonishing feat of human endurance and courage which was also concerned for people who suffer from a particularly sad and intractable illness[multiple sclerosis]. Surely at a time when, as never before, we need to develop these qualities in the young generation, this story should be accepted at its face-value, as a shining example to Britain’s youth'(p237).

Fiennes refers to motivation for the trip on p215 when, having doubts about completing the journey, he mentions ‘clearly delineated goals which had driven me and probably Mike as far as the edge of the continent’. He also writes that ‘one factor which did motivate onward travel, even for a few miles, was the knowledge that thousands of pounds were pledged in Britain for every mile of our progress’.

Regardless of the ‘motives’ in terms of public morality and ethics, there are other types of ideals and value systems into which the reader is ‘interpellated’ by the explorer/author, whether or not s/he is conscious of it. In the inquiry into the way in which the modern reader accepts this package and identifies with it, it is perhaps more than just incidental that one of Ranulph Fiennes better-known ancestors was that pioneer of the Picturesque movement, Celia Fiennes(1662-1741). To unpack the various influences which not only guide people like Fiennes and Stroud towards exploration, but which also inform the modern consumer’s reading, certain factors must be borne in mind. We must take a close look at how we read both the text of the book, the text of the landscape, and how the book itself reads/writes the text of the landscape. Would it be feasible to propose that the era of ‘image adventure’ which Fiennes ancestor helped to instigate and encode is finally brought to a close by Fiennes’s ‘ultimate adventure’, that this is the final decoding of the tenets of ‘picturesque travel’, or is it more complicated than a simple generic analysis suggests?

In his celebrated work on the identification of cultural systems at work, Mythologies2, Roland Barthes talks about the cultural connotations of travel-writing, a popular modern genre, many of whose traditions are located in the ‘Picturesque’ movement of the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries. Barthes sees the pretensions towards ‘explanations of environment’ not simply as inaccurate, but, in fact, as ‘agents of blindness’. The drive which motivated the ‘Grand Tourist’ of yesteryear, a force which, many would claim, is comprehensively translated into the model of a mobile modern western culture, is, in simple terms, that of pure adventure.

In a modern technological environment where ‘virtual travel’ can exist, the ‘drama of the senses written in landscape’ which was so axiomatic to the traveller of old, is all but made redundant by the possibility of the variable role-plays which we have access to through the use of modern computer software. Is this a convincing argument, or are we far more caught-up in the concepts of post-romanticism than we realise? Certainly ‘adventure’, as is seen by the very existence of these technological role-plays, still ‘sells’. As well as asking the more philosophical questions concerned with whether there would be anything to see beyond our mythological systems were we not so ‘blinded’, I shall focus more (as Barthes himself did) on the construction of these ‘agents’.

It is, difficult to imagine a time when people considered that a landscape had singular significance, and that it only required one ‘reading’. It is even more difficult to imagine a world where it was considered morally astute, and something to aspire to, to be able to ‘read’ a landscape in a particular way. The concept of landscape in the current cultural environment is an open one, and is concisely voiced by Barnes and Duncan in Writing Worlds:

‘A landscape possesses a similar objective fixity to that of a written text. It also becomes detached from the intentions of its original authors, and in terms of social and psychological impact and material consequences the various readings of landscapes matter more than any authorial intentions… In short, landscapes are characterised by all those features that Ricoeur identifies as definitive of a text’3

Their work is informed by the writings of Barthes, noticeably here, by his essay Death of the Author, but more broadly by the characteristically ‘expanded concept of the text… This expanded notion of texts originates from a broadly post-modern view, one that sees them as constitutive of reality rather than mimicking it – in other words, as cultural practices of signification rather than as referential duplications.’4

Writing Worlds’ view that such texts ‘should all be seen as signifying practices that are read, not passively, but, as it were, rewritten as they are read’ directly corresponds to subsequent understandings of ‘bourgeois ecriture’ which Barthes propounded. If we concur with the idea of a landscape as a text, and that bourgeois ecriture is one of the ‘various efforts towards a “zero degree” of style, a “style-less”, blank, transparent way of writing’5, then the fact that the Arctic is a ‘blank’ landscape should expose the writing/reading techniques at play in Mind over Matter very effectively. The only ‘author’, on the practical level, is the ambiguous figure of God (whom Fiennes regularly refers to), and the above argument justifies the discounting of her/his intentions.

The Gap Between the Author and Dr Mike Stroud… the Cause of much Friction on every Antarctic Manhaul Expedition.

It may be instructive to account for reader-response theories about the inscribed reader, meaning the set of tools which the reader is presupposed, by the author (of the written text, that is), to have at her/his disposal. Intrinsic to the concept of the ‘agents of blindness’ which Barthes envisages (if, indeed, ‘envisage’ is the correct term) is the definition of the terms ‘picturesque’, ‘sublime’, and ‘romantic’. Edmund Burke’s analysis of the ‘Sublime’ and ‘Beautiful’ gives this definition of the Sublime: ‘Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible,… is a source of the Sublime’6, and the Oxford Companion to English Literature describes the works of art in the tradition of the Sublime as possessing the ‘obscurity, power, darkness, solitude, and vastness’7, the passion for ‘exhilarating perils’ that was the Sublime. In these terms, the category ‘Sublime’ may seem far more relevant than those of ‘Picturesque’ and ‘Romantic’ to the ‘perilous’ subject-matter in-hand.

Critics would certainly maintain that Fiennes sees himself in terms of ‘original genius which soared fearlessly above the rules’8, and he certainly exhibits during the course of the book a philosophical introspection which could be termed either ‘egotistical sublime’ or ‘Shelleyan romanticism’. The Fiennes monologue is intertextual, drawing mainly on the descriptions of previous Antarctic writers-of Mount Kyffin he writes: ‘Wild described it as “an awful place exactly like a rough sea in appearance but in every hollow there was a crevasse. The strain on one’s nerves was greater than on the muscles”‘(p210). Fiennes himself describes the area thus:

‘All that day the wondrous fairyland floated, inch by inch, past our goggles. Progress was not apparent for the panorama was simply too huge. The 13,000-feet-high snow queen, Mount Elizabeth, reigned with majestic serenity to the west, wreathed in ever-changing veils of cloud, whilst, to the north-east, the soaring red cliffs of Mount Kyffin marked the very edge of the Antarctic Continent'(p209).

His description of the Beardmore Glacier is similar:

‘another breathtaking vista opens ahead. Here the Beardmore is more than thirty miles in width and pours down its valley in a cataract of spectacular chaos, a devil’s cauldron with crevasses large enough to devour St. Paul’s Cathedral'(p195).

Perhaps most telling, from a ‘Romantic’ and ‘Sublime’ point of view, is the description given of Antarctic ice at the beginning of the ninth chapter:

‘Ice plays games in Antarctica where God has franchised all power to its whim. Ice is solid only to the eye, for its sinuous eddies are endlessly renewed, constantly revitalised. Mankind is trivial and of no concern to the ice. Unstoppable and unpredictable, sheering and truncating every solid thing that stands in its way, ice lays a thousand traps and snares for those who trespass in its southern playpen'(p184).

This attitude is reminiscent of Shelley’s poem Mont Blanc, in which the observer studies the might of the shifting ice-cap on the alpine peak. The difference between the two outlooks is the ambiguous space for ‘romantic irony’ which Shelley leaves for the reader to fill in. If the ever-flowing ice-cap of Mont Blanc is taken as a metaphor for the enigmatic ‘Romantic Self’, then that ‘self’, ‘identity’ and ‘purpose’ is felt, ultimately, to be a void – to have no anchorage. This is especially distinguishable when the poet says: ‘what were thou[Heaven], and earth, and stars, and sea,/If to the human mind’s imaginings/Silence and solitude were vacancy?’9.

Arguably Shelley is here both reflecting contemporary ideas of nature (‘Nature, as Carlyle said, had become an old eight-day clock which could be taken to pieces and put together again according to taste’10), as well as understanding his ultimate incapability to ever really commune with Nature. In this understanding he was anticipating arguments about the arbitrariness of the concept of ‘wilderness’ as nature beyond the knowledge, or vision, of the human. Nature will only ever be as he sees it, and this has existential repercussions for the mind of man. John Whale suggests that this problem with environment is ‘the nature of Romantic disappointments – a version of what Conrad was later to formulate as “the horror, the horror”‘11. This reference to Heart of Darkness concerns itself with the dark side of humankind, primarily because of the inability to map the self onto a chaotic world, and the terror of the abyss. Shelley seeks to subvert the boundaries which dictate that ‘The poem… is a version of the world, which is to say an interpretation, an ideological statement’12.

As if to remind us that ‘[hu]mankind is trivial and of no concern’, Keith Thomas evolves Wordsworth’s suggestions about the Picturesque and the Sublime: ‘A feeling for Romantic scenery was not inherent in [hu]mankind, he urged. It took a long course of aesthetic education to instil a taste for barren rocks and mountains. The urban lower classes could derive no good from immediate access to the Lakes. What they needed was a preparatory course…’13. Thus the Oxford Companion informs us that ‘enthusiasts looked at the Lake District as though it were a sequence of pictures by Claude or Salvator Rosa’14. Images of the Sublime today are in a position where they have become fully socialised in precisely the same way as concepts of ‘picture’ or ‘romance’. John Whale, again on this topic, says, ‘It was Gilpin… who provided the opportunity for the mass consumption of the picturesque. In doing so… he jeopardised the scarce cultural commodity he had done so much to expound’15 In his discussion of landscape painting, James Turner provokes thought on the topic of the essential elements of a landscape ‘prospect’ in the eighteenth-century. ‘Landscape is a socialised image’16, he says in his preface, and goes on to tell us that, by the beginning of this period, ‘the new landscape is composite. It is not a portrait of an individual place, but an ideal construction of particular motifs’17. Perhaps these motifs correspond to those of ‘picturesque views’, but this most certainly supports the argument that the conception of landscape is arbitrary. Turner goes on:

‘The interrelation of reality and artistic preconception is dense and fecund: Greenwich becomes a favourite recreation-place because of the view; visitors spread its reputation in their writings, which are strongly pictorial; these attract painters and printmakers, whose views carry literary inscriptions; but why was it so exciting in the first place? Because it looked like a fine landscape painting’18.

One of the subjects which constantly arises in Fiennes’s discourses about the nature of the expedition is his objection to those who see it as a modern version of a ‘tour’, and do not take it seriously as such. These constant references to self-justification bring attention to this issue by default. True enough, the homing-beacons which were activated at the end of the trek could not be seen as a ‘get-out clause’, had the expected blizzards set in, but they didn’t, and, in that sense, the ‘mortal danger’ element was diminished. However, Fiennes goes to great lengths to describe the dangers of crevasses, from which nobody could survive, and the way this is done depends upon the conventions of travel writing as we know it. As well as its Sublime diction, a considerable portion of the text corresponds to the idea of ‘Arcadian scenes and fairyland of the Picturesque’. Indeed, Fiennes depends, conversely, upon the discursive creation of this ‘fantastic world’, the ‘Otherness’ of which lends his story mystique.

It is easy to see certain hints of ideology inscribed in Fiennes ‘interpretation’ of his environment, for instance in his regal treatment of Mount Elizabeth (above), and this may very well be a result of the tradition of polar travel. As mentioned above, a great deal of the book, and, of course, all the planning for the actual physical expedition, depended upon the writings of previous polar travellers, map-makers, and general experts. Throughout history, but more noticeably from the turn of this century, men (not women until recently) have ‘written’ the Antarctic landscape for others to ‘read/rewrite’ (as perhaps I am doing now?) in diaries, notes, and data. It is my own opinion that Mind over Matter is very deeply rooted within the constraints of polar travel-writing and is written almost deliberately from a neo-imperialist point of view. This is not necessarily a negative criticism, as the author obviously feels that some criticisms are. More importantly, this opinion involves the understanding of the influences and origins of this particular mode of ‘adventure’. During the two decades before world war two there was a distinct build-up of interest, certainly in the arts, around the subject of objectivity, personal value, human constancy, and at once heroic self-effacement. This came to a head, perhaps, with the confusion of the war poets at the mass death of their comrades in the name of the country, and in the images of artists such as those of the vortex movement19. Various paintings of this period show lines of duplicated, faceless soldiers, marching into battle. The neo-classicism of the period during which polar travel came to the fore is undeniable.

Fiennes includes a brief history of Antarctic exploration in his appendix, and relies on the diaries of Scott’s polar team(1912), noticeably that of Cherry-Garard, Amundsen’s various notes on polar travel(1911), and the expert scientific advice of Charles Swithinbank. Fiennes creates an overall adventure narrative (both in real life, and on paper), from these various different ‘views’ or ‘definitions’ of Antarctica. He comments on whether the features of the continent live up to their descriptions when he arrives at them, and in many ways Swithinbank’s scientific speculation is as useful as the descriptive texts, which are written by people who have actually been to the place they describe. All writings on the pole are, ultimately, human projections, onto a blank background, whether they be through the medium of science or travel literature. In this sense the science/literature genre boundaries break down into a new understanding of ‘text’. This point is enacted by the text as it describes an environment where ‘Like Shackleton and Scott, we were but temporal and irrelevant shadows against such a backdrop, our personal pains, hopes and grudges as petty as an eddy in the breeze'(p189).

Alongside the author’s use of previous ‘textual equipment’ (which we may take as ‘elements of preconception’, be they literary or scientific) to describe the environment, a considerable proportion of time is spent on the physical state of the explorers during the trek.

‘Constrictions caused by 15,000-foot-high mountains had formed, and were even now renewing savage whirlpools and mighty maelstroms of cascading pressure-ice. Huge open chasms leered from distant foothills and standing ice-waves reared up at the base of black truncated cliffs.

I found this canvas full of power and wonder…Nothing else lived here nor ever had…No birds, nor beasts, nor the least bacteria survived. Only the deep roar of massive avalanche, the shriek and grind of splitting rock, the groan of shifting ice, and the music, soft or fierce, of the winds from a thousand valleys, moved to and fro across the eternal silence'(p188).

– Passages such as this are a pure enactment of the conventions of the sublime, but as Shelley’s poem suggests, and in Hogarth’s words, ‘What I think the Sublime in form, so remarkably displayed in the human body’20. Subject/object relationships are not any more simple in the human ‘prospect’ of this environment than they are in any other landscape. In many ways here, the men’s minds and bodies could be seen to be the prospect, and the natural forces seen to be mapping themselves onto the space which then becomes the object – the man. With this subjectivity there is a definite inversion of the inside/outside, self/other terms, an inversion which we see strongly used in landscape description in Andrew Marvell’s Upon Appleton House, to trace but one of the traditions at play here. With the abundant references made to ‘hypothermia’, ‘hypoglaecemia’, ‘violent shivering seizures’, and the horrific frostbite photographs which so captivate a ‘first-browse’ (reminiscent, in fact to my earlier reference to Jaws), the damage done by the environment to the human is seen to, for once – some would say -reciprocated. So the book is about the effect of nature on the explorer. Ultimate Sublime? Perhaps…

Frostbite Photograph – The Author’s Left Foot Soon After The South Pole Was Passed.

In effect, the ‘canvas’ which Fiennes refers to in the last passage here is a ‘picture’ of this ‘environment-reflected-on-man’ idea, in that it is an account of the impression made on the author by the scene. We are told that what characterised Claude’ painting was ‘idyllic landscapes and his nostalgic vision of lost splendour’21. The Oxford Companion also tells us that Capability Brown’s landscapes ‘were deliberately fashioned to evoke the landscapes of Claude’22, and perhaps it is conceivable to envisage doing the same thing with his understanding of the Arctic environment? In that the picturesque influence on any reading of the text encourages a preconception of a role to be played in the environment, it is instructive to see the images that the author gives us in terms of a map. The breakdown of the normal boundaries between a map-text and an artistic-text is made doubly complete because of the particular environment in question being Antarctic. There can be no accurate topographical record made, if for no other reason than that the landscape is made up predominantly of glaciers which, constantly in flow, move at anything up to several miles per day. The ‘gap between signifier and signified’, between nature and our understanding of it, is made complete and profound by this instance.

Jean Baudrillard addresses this idea of the reworking of tradition when he writes ‘Everything is destined to reappear as simulation, landscapes as photography, women as the sexual scenario, thoughts as writing, terrorism as fashion and the media, events as television’23. Mind over Matter is the reappearance of certain traditions, and like Turner’s definition of poetry (‘interpretation’, ‘ideological statement’) cannot escape the fact that it is an ideological statement. Edward Wilson, of the 1912 Scott team24, painted water-colours and drew pictures which, like earlier romantic paintings such as Friedrich’s The Sea of Ice, must take a part in the visualisation of the polar landscape.

Caspar Friedrich, The Sea of Ice, 1824, oil on canvas.

Fiennes is using the past to constantly rewrite the future, and he does this in an ideologically inscribed way. Raymond Williams refers to ‘”ideology”, in any of its Marxist senses, in which a system of meanings and values is the expression or projection of a particular class interest’25. The class interest at large in this ‘work’ is one which understands the encoded constraints of Polar Epic, Picturesque, and Sublime. In relation to previous polar recordings (artistic and scientific), James Turners views are again borne out: ‘The literary countryside is a bon a penser, an instrument to think with; like any tool, it makes a task easier but it also determines the form of the task to be done’26.

Fiennes’s own hand-drawn map of the trek.

J.B.Harley sees maps, also a ‘tool’, as ‘a socially constructed form of knowledge’27. He explains ‘the particular role of maps, as images with historically specific codes’28 thus: ‘Maps are never value-free images… they are not in themselves either true or false.. map knowledge is a social product’29. /maps/science. If ‘landscape is a socialised image'(Turner), then, and maps ‘a socially constructed form of knowledge'(Harley), surely we can resort to that one bastion of rationality against which we may definitively set Mind over Matter into perspective – science.(Incidentally, the word ‘perspective’ here has double connotations, being the most important aspect of landscape painting, and also being the one thing denied to the vision of the polar traveller, and the subsequent cause of snow-blindness.)

The scientific element of the trek was the main motivation for the author’s companion, Mike Stroud, and also provided a certain amount of institutional support for the expedition. Stroud was sponsored by British military forces to ‘map’ the development/regression of the human body when subjected to extreme conditions on an exactly monitored diet. For his explorations, Fiennes has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science, this providing another link with Celia Fiennes, whose journal Through England on a Side-Saddle in the time of William and Mary (published in 1888) included surveys of ‘what interested her… enclosures, mining, cloth manufacture, gardens and domestic architecture’30. Science is all very well on these terms, but ultimately it is also a relative and artificial construction, and like maps, writings and paintings, has its place in the ‘tool-kit’. Kenneth Clarke’s reminder of the ‘abstract character’31 of science is worth taking into account, as Clarke brings attention to both the representational nature of science, and the arbitrariness of perspective. Notice that the human, in the case of snow-blindness, is made blind by the lack of visual fixation and perspective. The science of perspective is worth a brief mention here, and Clarke describes it this way: ‘clearly scientific perspective is not a basis for naturalism a mathematical and a realistic approach to appearances… the two are incompatible’32. This is because they consist in different signifying systems, and not because one is ‘true’, the other ‘false’. Clarke also writes of typical landscaped park scenery that ‘the eye is led into the distance firmly, smoothly, but with some complexity’33. Looking back at the first illustration above, this is exactly what is denied the viewer.

To conclude, this book uses the past in order to write its own future. Sometimes the future, and what it might hold, is recorded as the only reason to go on: ‘However uncertain the future, we were within half a mile of walking over the highest, coldest, most inhospitable continent on earth from atlantic to pacific'(p212). The book can be looked at in two ways. One can acknowledge the constraints employed to read the discourse, ‘rewriting’ one’s own future with these constantly in mind (positive approach). The negative approach is to adopt Ms Maxwell’s point of view – a far more politically correct opinion which sees the whole thing in terms of a self-affirming bourgeois imperialism. It is dualistic in this sense. Cultural theorists see all projections of humankind as complex systems of colonisation, and the question which is really being posed in this essay is: are there conceivable overlaps, and are we in a position to perceive them?

The slide projection onto a white screen is a feasible overall metaphor for everything this essay, and the book it describes, is about. When all’s said and done, and the expedition has been exhaustively analysed, the Antarctic still remains, a blank sheet, but this blank sheet also resists projection on any other terms than those of human instigation. Mind over Matter proves that what nature is outside of our conception is beyond our grasp. Nature and the wilderness are ultimately ‘existential’ entities – ‘we think, therefore they are’. Fiennes talks of massiveness, but the ‘cosmic’ proportions of this cannot exist outside of the description of the self upon which it is reflected.

That the book is a reworking of the epic adventure is undeniable. ‘Myth occurs when objects suitable for communication, landscapes included, become “appropriated by society” in Barthes’s words. They become signifiers and thus are emptied of content’34. The content of the wilderness is of a completely contrived nature, dependent upon ‘maps’ such as ‘science’, ‘pictures’, ‘Sublime’ – ‘maps’ which are really ‘anti-maps’ as it were. Nevertheless, this contraption is, at the same time, a complex web of interacting factors which condition our response to the discursive nature of the landscape text.


T. Barnes/J. Duncan(eds), Routledge,1992. Writing Worlds.

Barthes, Roland , (transl: Annette Lavers), London; Cape, 1972. Mythologies.

Burke, Edmund, London, 1759. A Philosophical Inquiry into ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.

Clarke, Kenneth, London, 1976. Landscape into Art.

Copley/Garside (eds), Cambridge, 1994. Politics of the Picturesque.

Cosgrove/Daniels(eds), Cambridge, 1988. The Iconography of Landscape.

Drabble, Margaret(ed), fifth edition. Oxford, 1988. Oxford Companion to English Literature.

Greenblatt, Steven, Berkeley, 1989. Towards a Poetics of Culture.

Hawkes, Terence, Methuen, 1977. Structuralism and Semiotics.

Hogarth, London, 1753. Analysis of Beauty.

Seaver, George, London, 1933. Edward Wilson of the Antarctic.

Shelley, P.B.,London, 1815. Mont Blanc.

Thomas, Keith, London, 1983. Man and the Natural World.

Turner, James, Blackwell, Oxford, 1979. The Politics of Landscape.

Williams, Raymond, Oxford University Press, 1977. Marxism and Literature.


1Towards a Poetics of Culture, Steven Greenblatt, Berkeley, 1989.

2Mythologies, Guide Bleu, Roland Barthes (transl: Annette Lavers), London; Cape, 1972.

3Writing Worlds, p6, T. Barnes/J. Duncan(eds), Routledge,- 1992.

4ibid, p5.

5Structuralism and Semiotics, p108, Terence Hawkes, Methuen, 1977.

6A Philosophical Inquiry into ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, p7, Edmund Burke, London, 1759.

7Oxford Companion to English Literature, Margaret Drabble(ed), fifth edition Oxford, 1988.


9Mont Blanc, P.B.Shelley, London, 1815.

10Landscape into Art, p65, Kenneth Clarke, London, 1976.

11‘Romantics, Explorers and Picturesque Travellers.’ p175 of Politics of the Picturesque, Copley/Garside (eds), Cambridge, 1994.

12The Politics of Landscape, p2, James Turner, Blackwell, Oxford, 1979.

13Man and the Natural World, p267, Keith Thomas, London, 1983.

14Oxford Companion.

15ibid, p177, Politics of the Picturesque.

16The Politics of Landscape, ii.

17ibid, p10.

18ibid, p9.

19The mood of Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting(1917) illustrates this tendency rather well, as the narrator recounts: ‘It seemed that out of battle I escaped/Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped/Through granites which titanic wars had groined…’

20Analysis of Beauty, x. p51. Hogarth, London, 1753.

21Oxford Companion.

22Oxford Companion.

23America,(trans: Chris Turner) by Jean Baudrillard, cited on p83 of Writing Worlds.

24See illustrations of ‘Mushroom Ice’, ‘Ice Mounds’, ‘Aurora Australis’, and ‘Sunset on Mount Erebus’ in: Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, George Seaver, London, 1933.

25Marxism and Literature, p108, Raymond Williams, Oxford University Press, 1977.

26The Politics of Landscape, p4.

27‘Maps, Knowledge, and Power.’ p277 of The Iconography of Landscape, Cosgrove/Daniels(eds), Cambridge, 1988.


29ibid, p278-279.

30Oxford Companion.

31Landscape into Art, p44.


33ibid, p114.

34Writing Worlds, p19.