“A little place in the neighbourhood of a great city”: Landscape and Environment in Walter Pater’s “The Child in the House”, “An English Poet” and “Emerald Uthwart”

by Giovanni Bassi

My paper will consider the function of landscape in Walter Pater’s short narratives, focusing on three texts traditionally grouped together: “The Child in the House”, “An English Poet” and “Emerald Uthwart”. I will investigate the physical and visionary plenitude of the Paterian landscape through its synesthetic and mythopoeic imagery (gardens and flowers are among the most recurrent tropes in these ‘portraits’). Consequently, I will examine the peculiar dialectic and fusion, in these narratives, between human and natural environment, art and nature. Seen from this perspective, the still overlooked “An English Poet” suggests that Ruskin’s idea of nature may be juxtaposed to Pater’s and this may fruitfully add to the complex relationship between the two authors as well as to the subject of Victorian ecocriticism.