The Spiritual History of Ice: Romanticism, Science, and the Imagination

Overview

At the turban of the nineteenth century, crystallographers, glaciologists, and polar explorers for the first time demonstrated that frozen shapes are not dead but bearers of vital powers. Aware of this new scientific information, Romantic figures in England and America—including Coleridge and Poe, Percy and Mary Shelley, Emerson and Thoreau—challenged traditional representations of ice as waste and celebrated crystals, glaciers, and the poles as revelations of life as well as models of poetic composition. The ...

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The Spiritual History of Ice: Romanticism, Science, and the Imagination

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Overview

At the turban of the nineteenth century, crystallographers, glaciologists, and polar explorers for the first time demonstrated that frozen shapes are not dead but bearers of vital powers. Aware of this new scientific information, Romantic figures in England and America—including Coleridge and Poe, Percy and Mary Shelley, Emerson and Thoreau—challenged traditional representations of ice as waste and celebrated crystals, glaciers, and the poles as revelations of life as well as models of poetic composition. The Spiritual History of Ice explores this ecology of ice in fascinating detail, revealing not only a neglected context of the Romantic age but also the esoteric history and psychology of frozen phenomena

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Like crystalline forms, this book is weird and wondrous…Wilson presents his wide-ranging and energetic research in gripping, narrative fashion.”—Gothic Studies

“Wilson's account is intelligent and his style eloquent. . . . . [He] is particularly insightful on optics…[and] his reading of literary texts is sensitive throughout.”—European Romantic Review

“Wilson achieves his aim of interpreting Frankenstein, ‘Mont Blanc,’ Manfred, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and pertinent works by Emerson and Thoreau in the light of discoveries within newly ‘esoteric’ natural philosophy...Wilson's book is a learned and wide-ranging literary study certain to be influential in both content and method.”—Studies in Romanticism

“The book assimilates a staggering number of primary sources and secondary references and strikes a balance between theoretical abstraction and practical criticism...It constitutes Wilson's best book yet.”—The Wordsworth Circle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230619715
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 10/15/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

ERIC G. WILSON is Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University. He is author of Against Happiness, Romantic Turbulence and Emerson's Sublime Science, among others.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Frozen Apocalypse
• Crystals
• Glaciers
• The Poles
• Conclusion: Melting and Genesis

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