History of Six Weeks’ Tour through a Component of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland: With Letters Descriptive of a Sail round the Lake of Geneva, and of the Glaciers of Chamouni
History of a Six Weeks’ Tour by way of a component of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland with Letters Descriptive of a Sail Round the Lake of Geneva and of the Glaciers of Chamouni is a travel narrative by the English Romantic authors Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Part of the new genre of the Romantic travel narrative, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour exudes spontaneity and enthusiasm the authors demonstrate their desire to develop a sense of taste and distinguish themselves from these around them. The romantic elements of the perform would have hinted at the text’s radical politics to nineteenth-century readers. However, the text’s frank discussion of politics, which includes good references to the French Revolution and praise of Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was uncommon for a travel narrative at the time, specifically a single authored primarily by a woman. History of a Six Weeks’ Tour is portion of a liberal reaction to recent history: its trajectory begins with a survey of the devastation of the Napoleonic Wars and ends by celebrating the sublime in nature. William Wordsworth’s 1850 The Prelude and the third canto of Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage follow a related course. As Moskal explains, ”nature is troped as the repository of a sublimity, after incarnated in Napoleon, that will re-emerge in politics”. The book is as a result not only a liberal political statement but also a Romantic celebration of nature. The journal starts with, as Moskal describes, a ”view of Napoleon’s shattered political power”. He had just been exiled to Elba a couple of months just before the Shelleys arrived in Europe. Surveying the devastation triggered by the Napoleonic Wars, Mary Shelley worries about how the British will handle Paris and grieves more than the ”ruin” brought to the little French town of Nogent by the Cossacks. In between the two journeys recorded in the text, Napoleon returned to power in the so-named Hundred Days and was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The 4 letters from Geneva reflect obliquely on this occasion.
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