chapter
6 Pages

Conclusion

‘The very thing itself’
WithJoe Bray

In his essay On the Pleasure of Painting in the first volume of Table-Talk: Essays on Men and Manners, William Hazlitt provides ample evidence of his life-long love for painting. In the series of essays collected together as The Spirit of the Age: or, Contemporary Portraits, for example, he frequently employs the metaphor suggested in his subtitle when considering key figures of the Romantic period and their work. In his discussion of the smooth, glossy texture of Scott's poetry, for example, he claims that we see grim knights and iron armour; but they have the softness of flowers. The essay on Scott is not the only one in The Spirit of the Age to make a strong connection between the verbal and the visual and compare the author to a painter, in particular a painter of portraits. For prose writers of the Romantic period creative impulse and imagination are frequently generated by a clash between the verbal and the visual.