New Book | Grammars of Approach

Posted in books by Editor on March 22, 2019

From The University of Chicago Press:

Cynthia Wall, Grammars of Approach: Landscape, Narrative, and the Linguistic Picturesque (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-0226467665 (cloth), $105 / ISBN: 978-0226467832 (paper), $35.

In Grammars of Approach, Cynthia Wall offers a close look at changes in perspective in spatial design, language, and narrative across the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that involve, literally and psychologically, the concept of ‘approach’. In architecture, the term ‘approach’ changed in that period from a verb to a noun, coming to denote the drive from the lodge at the entrance of an estate “through the most interesting part of the grounds,” as landscape designer Humphrey Repton put it. The shift from the long straight avenue to the winding approach, Wall shows, swung the perceptual balance away from the great house onto the personal experience of the visitor. At the same time, the grammatical and typographical landscape was shifting in tandem, away from objects and Things (and capitalized common Nouns) to the spaces in between, like punctuation and the ‘lesser parts of speech’. The implications for narrative included new patterns of syntactical architecture and the phenomenon of free indirect discourse. Wall examines the work of landscape theorists such as Repton, John Claudius Loudon, and Thomas Whately alongside travel narratives, topographical views, printers’ manuals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, grammars, and the novels of Defoe, Richardson, Burney, Radcliffe, and Austen to reveal a new landscaping across disciplines—new grammars of approach in ways of perceiving and representing the world in both word and image.

Cynthia Wall is professor of English at the University of Virginia. She is an editor of works by Bunyan, Defoe, and Pope, and the author of The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London and The Prose of Things: Transformations of Description in the Eighteenth Century, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press.


List of Illustrations
A Note on My Text


1  The Architectural Approach
The etymology of ‘approach’ (n.s.)
The concept of approach (n.s. and v.): the ‘ancient’ and the ‘modern’ lines
The language of approach (v.): architectural and syntactical design
The traveler’s approach
The novelists approach

2  The Prepositional Building
The park gate lodge
The topographical view: angles and staffage
A Bridge to the next part: ‘A Village on, or across, the Thames

3  The Topographical Page
The typographical landscape
The letters on the page:
i. fonts
ii. capitals and italics
iii. catchwords
iv. pointing

4  The Grammar in Between
The rise of grammar
The rise of the preposition
Clarissa and the little words: the avenue and the approach
i. Richardson as printer
ii. Clarissa and prepositions
iii. Clarissa as prepostion

5  The Narrative Picturesque
Syntactical architecture in textual landscapes
i. Bunyan: “thinges . . included in one word”
ii. Defoe: “in a Word
iii. Haywood: “In fine, she was undone”
The narrative picturesque
i. Radcliffe and the prepositional phrase
ii. Burney and the psychological interior
iii. Austen and the approach to the interior

Coda: A Topographical Page



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