This introductory chapter begins with a brief discussion of the purpose of the book, which is an interdisciplinary study of British literary and scientific culture in the first half of the 19th century, focusing on the development in those decades of a new spatial imagination. Its central concern reflects the increasing importance of space in critical enquiry over recent decades. The book steps back from the lived spaces of social geography to view the abstract space with and within which early 19th century writers organized knowledge, and which affected literature and the literary imagination in ways which have not yet been fully investigated by literary critics. An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
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