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Sanctuaries of Light in Nineteenth-Century European Literature


Hugo G. Walter

This collection of insightful and provocative essays explores the theme of sanctuaries of light in nineteenth-century European literature, especially in selected works by William Wordsworth, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Joseph von Eichendorff, and Charlotte Brontë. These sanctuaries of light, natural beauty, and serenity comfort, nurture, and revitalize the heart, mind, and soul of the individual and inspire creative expression.
This book will be of interest to professors, teachers, and scholars in the fields of English literature, German literature, European literature, comparative literature, and cultural studies.


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Chapter 1


William Wordsworth In William Wordsworth: A Life Stephen Gill writes that “Tintern Abbey” (written in 1798) is Wordsworth’s “hymn of thanksgiving” (120) for the “energies in the natural order that make for unity, which enable man to know himself part of the great whole of the active universe” (129–130). Wordsworth’s persona (the “I” in the poem) overcomes the fragmentation of the self that occurs in “Yew-tree Lines” by appreciating profoundly the “sense sublime / Of something far more deeply interfused” (95–96) which inspires him to see in nature the emotional, spiritual source of his experience of a diastolic, expansive sense of space and time. In “Tintern Abbey” Wordsworth reveals a diastolic sense of space and a sense of time that is both hermetic and orphic, hermetic in the sense that the persona is more aware of mortality, orphic in the sense that the persona believes intuitively that any expansiveness of space may lead to a feeling of expanding time. The importance of a sense of space is stressed from the beginning of “Tintern Abbey.” In the first ten to fifteen lines Wordsworth speaks of the significance of the “steep and lofty cliffs” (5) which not only inspire profound thoughts, but also represent the link between the earth and “the quiet of the sky” (8). The aura of heavenly tranquility is subsequently applied to the repose which the persona experiences under the dark sycamore. Wordsworth views with admiration various features of his immediate natural environment, including the “orchard-tufts” (11)...

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