“Shallow” Estates and the “Deep” Wild: The Landscapes of Charlotte Smith’s Fiction

Lisa Ottum, Xavier University
Vol. 34, No. 2 (Fall 2015), 249-272

This essay argues that poet and novelist Charlotte Smith pioneered an innovative, antihegemonic mode of locodescription that resists Romantic-era narratives of progress. In her fiction, Smith invests topography with a sense of depth that challenges other Romantic representations of nature, especially those that celebrate the panoramic view and its putative comprehensiveness. Celestina (1791) and The Old Manor House (1793) expose idealized images of rural England as false; the “deep” landscapes found in these novels work to uncover the class and gender biases of the prospect view and, more broadly, to resist elitist narratives that inhered in images of the “green and pleasant” countryside.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]