Mountain Literature Classics: Mont Blanc, Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni

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Written in 1816, Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem is crucial not just to an understanding of English Romanticism, says Ronald Turnbull - it also hints at how mountains came to matter to so many of us today. And it's not half bad either.

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 Roberttaylor 21 Oct 2022
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Thoroughly enjoying this series. This is not a criticism, but I can only assume the reason you didn't mention the story behind 'Frankenstein' is because you'll do another of these on 'History of a six weeks tour'. 

Worth noting that MS has 'the creature' making the FA of the Eiger north face, so in a way Frankenstein qualifies as climbing literature too!

In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I thoroughly enjoyed this analysis. The more writing about the niche pursuit of climbing/mountain poetry the better! (I contributed a couple of articles on the subject to climber magazine a couple of years ago.) I'm interested that you place so much (tongue-in-cheek?) emphasis on Coleridge's 1802 descent of Broad Stand as marking the "invention" of fell-walking. Although Coleridge's account is a fine piece of writing, personally I don't think it's as powerful as Wordsworth's brilliant description of his earlier 1791 night-time ascent of Snowdon in Book XIII of the 1805 Prelude. And there's so much walking in the poem as a whole my feet ached at the end of it! Anyway, I very much look forward to the next article.

In reply to Andy Clarke:

Thanks for the comments! Roberttaylor, the main reason I didn't go into Frankenstein etc is that these pieces are supposedly at 500 words... Yes, I do have 'Six Weeks' Tour on my list, but there's a lot of other things on there as well. The suggestion of Frankenstein as fellwalker is one to follow up on. 

As for Coleridge - I did cover him a long way back, near the start of this series. []. My high opinion of him as fellwalker is based on his fell notebooks and letters as a whole: such as his night crossing of Helvellyn, and his verse painting of Moss Ghyll's waterfall. The series has also covered WW's Lake District guidebook, again a few years ago now. But yes, the Prelude can certainly count as a fellwalking poem, and Tintern Abbey is an account of a long-distance trail too.

I'd like to see your pieces from 'Climber' if you were able to forward them.

In reply to Ronald Turnbull:

I'll send you photocopies of the climber articles if you pm me an address. David Simmonite (the Editor) did a very nice presentation job on them.

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