Matthew L. Reznicek »

Matthew L. Reznicek is Associate Professor of Nineteenth-Century British and Irish Literature at Creighton University, where he also teaches Medical Humanities in the School of Medicine. He has published widely in the field of nineteenth-century Irish women’s writing, including The European Metropolis: Paris and Nineteenth-Century Irish Women Novelists (Clemson University Press/Liverpool University Press, 2017). His second monograph, Stages of Belonging: Irish Women Writers and European Opera, is under contract with SUNY Press.

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This article is © 2020 The Author and is the result of the independent labour of the scholar credited with authorship. Unless otherwise noted, the material contained in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND) International License.
Date of acceptance: 18 April 2018.

Referring to this Article

M. L. REZNICEK, Review of Saeko Yoshikawa, William Wordsworth and the Invention of Tourism, 1820–1900 (2014; rptd Routledge, 2016), Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 23 (Summer 2020)

Online: Internet (date accessed):
PDF DOI:10.18573/romtext.97

Saeko Yoshikawa, William Wordsworth and the Invention of Tourism, 1820–1900 (2014; rptd Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2016), xii + 268pp.​ISBN 978-1-47242-013-8; £115 (hb).

At the conclusion of his speech unveiling the Memorial Fountain at Cockermouth, H. J. Palmer declaimed ‘Poets are born, not made’, but, as Saeko Yoshikawa demonstrates throughout William Wordsworth and the Invention of Tourism, national figures and places of literary pilgrimage are in fact made (p. 143). Discussing a poet so intimately related with a specific geographical space, Yoshikawa’s analysis demonstrates that this association between poet and landscape was closely curated and developed, and that it ‘had been fostered by guidebooks of various kinds as much as by more formal studies, biographies and literary criticisms’ (p. xi). As such, this book provides a clear and convincing history that is equal parts spatial analysis, reception history and cultural materialism—all surrounding the relationship between William Wordsworth and the Lake District. Yoshikawa achieves this through paying close attention to the development of specific sites in ‘a new cultural phenomenon’ of Wordsworthian tourism across the nineteenth century (p. 1), beginning with Black’s Picturesque Guide to the English Lakes (1841). These spaces provide the structural schema of the book, creating a clear demarcation of spaces divided by various stages of Wordsworth’s life as well as various stages of publications.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentBeginning with an anonymous artist’s album of sketches of ‘key scenes of Wordsworth’s life and works’, Yoshikawa notes that this previously unpublished album not only ‘follow[s] the conventional tourist routes but mak[es] significant deviations that signalled the new direction and destinations of nineteenth-century Lake District tourism’ (p. 12). These new directions are shaped and characterised by the increasing presence of the railroad and other modes of transportation, providing one of the most surprising arguments in this insightful analysis: the role of the railroad in shaping the sociocultural phenomenon of Wordsworth’s Lake District geography as a site of literary tourism. Making these spaces much more accessible to a broader audience, the railroad enables a different kind of tourism, what the Adams’s Pocket Guide (1852) describes as ‘summer excursionists’, more casual tourists less interested in the eighteenth-century aesthetic of the picturesque and more interested in ‘the poet’s domestic life’ (pp. 83 and 69). As a result of these forces, several key sites of Wordsworthian tourism emerge: specifically, the poet’s grave, Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount and his childhood homes and haunts.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentSurprisingly, through most of the nineteenth century, it was not Dove Cottage that received the majority of the attention; instead, it was Rydal Mount and its gardens that attracted the preponderance of visitors. In large part, this is attributable to the association of Wordsworth as landscape gardener. The gardens at Rydal Mount ‘were the space where visitors could feel closer to the gardener-poet, and after his death many of them tried to sense his spirit lingering among the trees and flowers and rocks he had tended, and in which he, in turn, had found inspiration’ (p. 99). This oft-noted association between Wordsworth and gardens, flowers and nature provides a unique opportunity for Yoshikawa to trace reminiscences of Wordsworth from below, that is from the servants, townspeople and others who would have seen the poet in his daily life. These narratives reinforce a relationship between the poet and nature, while also demonstrating his ‘taciturn and unsociable’ character: one neighbour remembers that Wordsworth ‘seemed to have loved stones and mortar more than people’ (p. 157). The association of the poet with the natural and the landscape is re­affirmed not only through the cultural material of sketchbooks and guidebooks, but also from these important anecdotes.

IndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentIndentYoshikawa notes that a shift occurs not simply away from the picturesque tourism that characterised early trips to the Lake District, but also a noticeable movement away from the places of the adult Wordsworth toward the spaces associated with the poet’s youth. This shift is attributable, as Yoshikawa notes, to the publication of Wordsworth’s autobiographical The Prelude (1850). Yoshikawa notes that, as The Prelude ‘became more widely known and read […] his birthplace at Cockermouth and school at Hawkshead began to be more frequently visited’ by these literary tourists (p. 13). By blending this reception history into her analysis of these spaces, Yoshikawa is able to provide a fascinating ‘spatial turn’ in this history of poetry and of cultural landscapes. Chapter 5, which focuses on both Cockermouth and Hawkshead, draws thoughtfully on Pierre Nora’s arguments regarding the need to ‘construct a “site of memory” […] as there were no “environments of memory”’ from which the tourists might draw (p. 143). Thus, this spatial analysis that draws on literary criticism, reception history and cultural materialism also draws deftly on memory studies in order to challenge and illuminate the ways in which we commemorate, celebrate and construct the towering figure of William Wordsworth. Certainly, this book will prove useful, as a result of its complex and multidisciplinary approach, to a wide range of scholars and students.