Chapter 2 begins by tracing out the changing perceptions of abstraction and prospect views around the period of the French Revolution. It then asks how these perceptions bear upon the Solitary’s vision of ‘Glory beyond all glory ever seen’ in Book II of The Excursion, analysing the vision’s recurrence and its intertextual and intratextual relationships with other verbal and pictorial images. Attention is paid to the political, religious, and literary nuances of imagery involving architecture, air, depths, surfaces, light, and enclosures, and of the dynamics of ascent and descent, which are crucial components of the Solitary’s vision. From a variety of sources – including Shakespeare, Spenser, Bunyan, Milton, Johnson, Cowper, Burke, and Volney, as well as Wordsworth’s other poems – this chapter teases out Wordsworth’s complex figurations of the French Revolutionary mind and shows how he ultimately restores the importance of envisioning, which comes to be associated as well with the abstract reason underlying radicalism as with prospect views that embody abstraction. The latter part of the chapter considers the Wanderer’s reconfiguration – through alternative visionary prospects that tap into the politics of feelings – of the Solitary’s glorious vision.
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