Illustration Tourism Photography

  • Gillen D’Arcy Wood


In December 1833, Charles Lamb received a volume of poems by his friend Samuel Rogers. Entitled The Pleasures of Memory, it featured illustrations by the most eminent book artists of the day, J. M. W. Turner and Thomas Stothard. Lamb delighted in the poetry but balked at the accompanying pictures. In chapter 1, we saw that Lamb rated the aesthetic experience of reading a Shakespeare play above its representation at the theater. Reading Rogers’ poems, the intrusion of visual images on the poetic text likewise upset his Romantic sensibility. In a sonnet he subsequently published in the Times, Lamb deplored the degrading effect of illustration on the “moral heart” of Rogers’ text:
  • …. thy gay book hath paid its proud devoirs,

  • Poetic friend, and fed with luxury

  • The eye of pampered aristocracy

  • In flittering drawing-rooms and gilt boudoirs,

  • O’erlaid with comments of pictorial art

  • However rich or rare, yet nothing leaving

  • Of healthful action to the soul-conceiving

  • Of the true reader …1

Lamb deploys the rhetoric of puritan outrage against pictorial additions to literature.


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© Gillen D’Arcy Wood 2001

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  • Gillen D’Arcy Wood

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