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“Two broad shining eyes”: Optic Impressions, Natural Imprints, and Landscape in Robinson Crusoe

Emmanuelle Peraldo


1. The original text reads, “Le paysage est l’étendue du pays que l’œil peut embrasser dans son ensemble.” Unless otherwise indicated, all translations from the original French are mine.
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2. The original texts read, “le paysage est empreint, conjointement, de médiance et d’historicité” and “le paysage ne réside ni seulement dans l’objet, ni seulement dans le sujet, mais dans l’interaction complexe de ces deux termes.”
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3. Here Locke is citing a Cartesian idea.
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4. In the same work, Newton writes: “A body only exerts this force when another force, impressed upon it, endeavours to change its condition; and the exercise of this force may be considered as both resistance and impulse; it is resistance so far as the body for maintaining its present state, opposes the force impressed; it is impulse so far as the body, by not easily giving way to the impressed force of another endeavours to change the state of that other” (def. 3). For Newton’s theory of vision, see his Opticks (1704).
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5. The original text reads, “les paysages picturaux ou réels sont empreints de nos valeurs et de nos fantasmes” (Shusterman 16).
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6. The term “urbanature” was coined by Ashton Nichols in Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Towards Urbanatural Roosting.
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7. Two other articles deal with that issue: Maximillian E. Novak, “Crusoe the King and the Political Evolution of his Island,” and Ian A. Bell, “King Crusoe: Locke’s Political Theory in Robinson Crusoe.”
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8. This Cartesian will to be the master and owner of nature is part of the paradox of a Robinson Crusoe who is modern in spite of the fact that he is lost on his desert island.
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9. See Anthony N. Penna’s book, The Human Footprint: A Global Environmental History.
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10. The original text reads, “le principe de Fulton est simple et radical: ‘la seule chose que l’on devrait faire avec un paysage, ce sont des photographies. Les seules choses que l’on doit y laisser, ce sont les traces de ses pas’” (White 114) On geopoetics, see Kenneth White’s website,
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11. Samuel Johnson defines personification in his 1756 dictionary as “the change of things to persons,” quoted in Keenleyside, “Personification for the People: On James Thomson’s The Seasons” (447). Keenleyside adds that the Oxford English Dictionary identifies that entry as the first English use of the term. She also maintains that Thomson “acknowledges that we may not know what a person is. But he also suggests that we may not know what a person is not; or who (or what) is a person” (451).
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12. For other representations of the landscape as a body, see II.84, 102, 110.
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13. Lévy and Lussault analyze the virus of the flu as an actant in their Dictionary. Lussault’s analysis of how the epidemic process structures space and is structured by the social use of space in the case of SARS can be transferred to the reading of the plague and how it reflected the social occupation of the London space.
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14. For a discussion of sympathy and sensibility, see Mark Salber Phillips, Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Britain, 1740-1820, Julia A. Stern, The Plight of Feeling: Sympathy and Dissent in the Early American Novel, and Patricia Meyer Spacks, “Oscillations of Sensibility.”
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15. The original text reads, “On pourrait même se demander si, au lieu de ‘landscape’, il n’eût pas mieux valu forger ‘landart’ (en un seul mot), soulignant ainsi l’origine et la dimension artistiques de tous les paysages (ou ’paysarts’, en tant que pays artialisés, in situ, ou in visu.”
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16. The original text reads, “le paysage est dans le sujet (notre cerveau) comme il est dans l’objet (les choses de l’environnement).”
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