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By McCormick, Thomas James

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Extra resources for A partial edition of "Les fais des Rommains"

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The trace and spatial trajectory of each British step outwards, each voyage of exploration, each colonial adventure, skirmish, acquisition, or annexation, is in Book  precisely mirrored and reflected by a symbolic but haunting return to London of repressed imperial presences (in fact, the late twentieth-century British and French racist anxieties about immigration are only the latest version of such imperial hauntings or hangovers). Thus, the British East Indies and China trades, which opens the channels for a flow of tea, opium,  Romantic imperialism spices, and calicoes, also do so for a less welcome and almost uncontrollable torrent of Lascars, Indians, and Malays (who bring with them images and sensations of the Orient, as seen, for instance, in De Quincey’s opium-induced Asiatic nightmares).

The chapters that follow will examine what I regard as the key sites and locations of anti-modern otherness in romanticism. Chapter  presents an exploration of the heart of the emerging world-system, the city of London, as seen from the vantage point of Wordsworth; it will situate Wordsworth’s spots of time in opposition to the worldliness of the imperial metropolis, and it will trace how London comes to be both the material and symbolic center of the world-system, against which all its others would be defined.

This almost happens in the sonnet ‘‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,’’ in which London is naturalized by being imaged as a spot of time, frozen in the quietness of dawn. The spot of time represents a potential and persistent disruption in the logic of continuous progressive time. Hence it offers an ideal optic through which to read romantic articulations of anti-modern otherness. But here we come to the two all-important shortcomings of this  Romantic imperialism concept, and to two conceptual traps that any account of romanticism can fall into.

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