The study of the spatial dimension in early eighteenth-century travel writing reveals a surprising scarcity in landscape descriptions which is to be ascribed, at least in part, to the dominating anthropocentricity of the contemporary bourgeois culture, which resulted in a stronger interest in man’s appropriation of nature and its transformation according to his specific needs than in a true appreciation of its aesthetic qualities. Nevertheless, one cannot thoroughly comprehend the cultural revolution that took place in the second half of the century, with the publication of such milestone works as Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry (1757) and the various reflections on the picturesque by Gilpin, Uvedale Price and Knight, without taking into account the aesthetic debate of the earlier decades, to which travel literature decisively contributed in a more or less conscious way. In this paper two works are taken into account which respectively open and close the first half of the century, Addison’s Remarks on Several Parts of Italy (1705) and Fielding’s Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon (1755), certainly different in kind, ambition and scope, but both revealing as far as the task of rendering a certain panorama or view through language is concerned. The classicist Addison very seldom dwells on the depiction of a natural setting unless for tracing it back to some landscape already met with in his favourite Latin authors, or as a source of meditation on political, economic, and even scientific questions. Yet, when he does describe nature, his approach bears evidence of a new aesthetic sensibility that was slowly taking shape at the time. Fielding’s Journal, on the contrary, interests us as a different way of tackling the problem of the “trans-codification” of a real landscape into a work of art, be it a narrative, a poem or a picture: his observations qua novelist pose questions about the problematic relationship between art and reality.
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