The house which appears at the end of the journey up the river Thames is the very core of the utopian topography: that token of human history belonging to ancient stages of civilization has survived «successive waves of degradation.» Ellen’s words emphasize the mythical nature of the house: that work of Beauty, untouched by the corrupting flux of time, has waited until the end of the machine age for the new birth of mankind. The immutability of «an old house amongst new folk» throughout the centuries reveals how deeply affiliated it is with an archetypal site, the locus amoenus where man enjoys freedom from toil and sorrow. The condition of oneiric suspension, even stasis, seems to prevail over the dynamic forces of change and mutability. The unproblematic relationship between man and nature in the new England may well be regarded as the projection of an ancestral desire for the place of fulfilment, where, according to Morris’s utopian project, the opposite moods of energy and idleness have been reconciled in the cohesion between pleasurable work and rest within nature. More recent critical readings have focused on the author’s attempt to merge the atemporal, escapist element of the rural idyll with the dynamic process ruling the civilized world. Northrop Frye has observed that «to make craftsmanship the basis of industry implies an immense simplification of human wants – this is the pastoral element in Morris’s vision. [...] The pastoral theme of the unity of man and physical nature is very prominent.» He suggests that Morris’s choice of the role of craftsman as the ideal occupation is clearly aimed at detaching man from sophisticated, superfluous habits while providing him with the ability to autonomously satisfy his primary needs. Not only does the land cover a wide range of demands with its spontaneous wealth, it has also been extensively explored and carved with human tools. By arguing that «Morris’s aesthetic response is not escape, but a kind of writing often mistaken for escape literature – the pastoral,» Blue Calhoun has analysed man’s pleasure in the enjoyment of natural environment, a paradigm traditionally ascribed to the genre of pastoral. He has demonstrated how the Victorian writers contributed to the nineteenth-century development of the genre by thematizing the dichotomy between the praise of country life and the disruptive power of industrialization. Influenced by the Victorian pastoral, where a dialectical confrontation is established between the natural rhythms and the frantic times imposed by the industrial process, in Nowhere Morris offers an integrated view of Nature and human architecture. In his utopian view, whenever man has cleverly employed the raw materials of the earth and worked them into comfortable dwelling places, his intervention has produced a strong impact which has enhanced rather than wasted the Beauty of the land. In Man acts as a creator, a craftsman whose central role is to design his living space according to a utopian project that requires his active participation rather than a passive enjoyment of natural resources.

‘And in the Dark House Was I Loved’: William Morris and Kelmscott Manor

SPINOZZI, Paola
2000

Abstract

The house which appears at the end of the journey up the river Thames is the very core of the utopian topography: that token of human history belonging to ancient stages of civilization has survived «successive waves of degradation.» Ellen’s words emphasize the mythical nature of the house: that work of Beauty, untouched by the corrupting flux of time, has waited until the end of the machine age for the new birth of mankind. The immutability of «an old house amongst new folk» throughout the centuries reveals how deeply affiliated it is with an archetypal site, the locus amoenus where man enjoys freedom from toil and sorrow. The condition of oneiric suspension, even stasis, seems to prevail over the dynamic forces of change and mutability. The unproblematic relationship between man and nature in the new England may well be regarded as the projection of an ancestral desire for the place of fulfilment, where, according to Morris’s utopian project, the opposite moods of energy and idleness have been reconciled in the cohesion between pleasurable work and rest within nature. More recent critical readings have focused on the author’s attempt to merge the atemporal, escapist element of the rural idyll with the dynamic process ruling the civilized world. Northrop Frye has observed that «to make craftsmanship the basis of industry implies an immense simplification of human wants – this is the pastoral element in Morris’s vision. [...] The pastoral theme of the unity of man and physical nature is very prominent.» He suggests that Morris’s choice of the role of craftsman as the ideal occupation is clearly aimed at detaching man from sophisticated, superfluous habits while providing him with the ability to autonomously satisfy his primary needs. Not only does the land cover a wide range of demands with its spontaneous wealth, it has also been extensively explored and carved with human tools. By arguing that «Morris’s aesthetic response is not escape, but a kind of writing often mistaken for escape literature – the pastoral,» Blue Calhoun has analysed man’s pleasure in the enjoyment of natural environment, a paradigm traditionally ascribed to the genre of pastoral. He has demonstrated how the Victorian writers contributed to the nineteenth-century development of the genre by thematizing the dichotomy between the praise of country life and the disruptive power of industrialization. Influenced by the Victorian pastoral, where a dialectical confrontation is established between the natural rhythms and the frantic times imposed by the industrial process, in Nowhere Morris offers an integrated view of Nature and human architecture. In his utopian view, whenever man has cleverly employed the raw materials of the earth and worked them into comfortable dwelling places, his intervention has produced a strong impact which has enhanced rather than wasted the Beauty of the land. In Man acts as a creator, a craftsman whose central role is to design his living space according to a utopian project that requires his active participation rather than a passive enjoyment of natural resources.
9788880632368
Utopia come genere letterario; utopismo; letteratura inglese; biografia; Gran Bretagna; XIX secolo; William Morris
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/1192003
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