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By Paul J Cloke

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A Soul to Steal

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A Soul to thieve is the first novel within the Sanheim Chronicles. The sequel, Band of Demons, will be published on Oct. 2, 2012.

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DreadfulWater Shows Up

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Extra info for Country visions

Example text

But we are also dealing with something that is fractured along a number of other lines. In the first place, there are important differences between the English and North American rural idylls. The English idyll is mediated through a strong sense of countryside as a national treasure. When the English talk of the countryside they are referring above all to a landscape aesthetic which in broad terms applies or aspires to apply to all rural areas. While much of this has to do with the compactness of the country itself, it is also a product of the processes that shaped the rural landscape and of the nationalist emotions that this landscape stirs.

Looking is the active organisation of what we see, and what we see is socially organised, structured through our internal interpretation of the visual stimulus. Vision in ‘western’ societies is often assumed to be a very immediate sense, free from the interpretative rigours of the other senses. Foucault argued, in particular, that the Classical age was defined by an increasing emphasis on the evidential properties of the visual, or what Jay terms, ‘an intensified faith in visual evidence’ (1986: 182).

From the country house novels of Jane Austen (see Chapter 6) to the squirearchical world of Anthony Trollope, the portrayal of the English countryside through the lifestyles and residential landscapes of the gentry has retained its popularity to the present day through movies and TV serialisations. This is the England of the country house, the county town and the village, occupied by a contented society which still clung to the old ways and the old rules. This is also the England of Constable, whose portraits of an English rural garden populated by a contented peasantry engaged in rustic tasks has become the derivation for all subsequent sentimentalised pictorial portrayals of the English countryside.

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