Romanticism coincided with two major historical developments: the Industrial Revolution, and with it, a turning point in our relationship to the earth, its inhabitants, and its climate. Drawing on Marxism and philosophy of science, The Calamity Form shines new light on Romantic poetry, identifying a number of rhetorical tropes used by writers to underscore their very failure to make sense of our move to industrialization.
Anahid Nersessian explores works by Friedrich Hölderlin, William Wordsworth, John Keats, and others to argue that as the human and ecological costs of industry became clear, Romantic poetry adopted formal strategies—among them parataxis, the setting of elements side by side in a manner suggestive of postindustrial dissonance, and apostrophe, here an address to an absent or vanishing natural environment—as it tried and failed to narrate the calamities of capitalism. These tropes reflect how Romantic authors took their bewilderment and turned it into a poetics: a theory of writing, reading, and understanding poetry as an eminently critical act. Throughout, Nersessian pushes back against recent attempts to see literature as a source of information on par with historical or scientific data, arguing instead for an irreducibility of poetic knowledge. Revealing the ways in which these Romantic works are of their time but not about it, The Calamity Form ultimately exposes the nature of poetry’s relationship to capital—and capital’s ability to hide how it works.
Although we know him as one of the greatest English poets, William Wordsworth might not have become a poet at all without the experience of personal and historical catastrophe in his youth. In Disowned by Memory, David Bromwich connects the accidents of Wordsworth's life with the originality of his writing, showing how the poet's strong sympathy with the political idealism of the age and with the lives of the outcast and the dispossessed formed the deepest motive of his writings of the 1790s.
"This very Wordsworthian combination of apparently low subjects with extraordinary 'high argument' makes for very rewarding, though often challenging reading."—Kenneth R. Johnston, Washington Times
"Wordsworth emerges from this short and finely written book as even stranger than we had thought, and even more urgently our contemporary."—Grevel Lindop, Times Literary Supplement
"[Bromwich's] critical interpretations of the poetry itself offer readers unusual insights into Wordworth's life and work."—Library Journal
"An added benefit of this book is that it restores our faith that criticism can actually speak to our needs. Bromwich is a rigorous critic, but he is a general one whose insights are broadly applicable. It's an intellectual pleasure to rise to his complexities."—Vijay Seshadri, New York Times Book Review
The Victorian era was the high point of literary tourism. Writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Sir Walter Scott became celebrities, and readers trekked far and wide for a glimpse of the places where their heroes wrote and thought, walked and talked. Even Shakespeare was roped in, as Victorian entrepreneurs transformed quiet Stratford-upon-Avon into a combination shrine and tourist trap.
Stratford continues to lure the tourists today, as do many other sites of literary pilgrimage throughout Britain. And our modern age could have no better guide to such places than Simon Goldhill. In Freud's Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë's Grave, Goldhill makes a pilgrimage to Sir Walter Scott's baronial mansion, Wordsworth's cottage in the Lake District, the Bront ë parsonage, Shakespeare's birthplace, and Freud's office in Hampstead. Traveling, as much as possible, by methods available to Victorians—and gamely negotiating distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls—he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern mind. What does it matter that Emily Brontë’s hidden passions burned in this specific room? What does it mean, especially now that his fame has faded, that Scott self-consciously built an extravagant castle suitable for Ivanhoe—and star-struck tourists visited it while he was still living there? Or that Freud's meticulous recreation of his Vienna office is now a meticulously preserved museum of itself? Or that Shakespeare’s birthplace features student actors declaiming snippets of his plays . . . in the garden of a house where he almost certainly never wrote a single line?
Goldhill brings to these inquiries his trademark wry humor and a lifetime's engagement with literature. The result is a travel book like no other, a reminder that even today, the writing life still has the power to inspire.
The Global Wordsworth charts the travels of William Wordsworth’s poetry around the English-speaking world. But, as Katherine Bergren shows, Wordsworth’s afterlives reveal more than his influence on other writers; his appearances in novels and essays from the antebellum U.S. to post-Apartheid South Africa change how we understand a poet we think we know. Bergren analyzes writers like Jamaica Kincaid, J. M. Coetzee, and Lydia Maria Child who plant Wordsworth in their own writing and bring him to life in places and times far from his own—and then record what happens. By working beyond narratives of British influence, Bergren highlights a more complex dynamic of international response, in which later writers engage Wordsworth in conversations about slavery and gardening, education and daffodils, landscapes and national belonging. His global reception—critical, appreciative, and ambivalent—inspires us to see that Wordsworth was concerned not just with local, English landscapes and people, but also with their changing place in a rapidly globalizing world. This study demonstrates that Wordsworth is not tangential but rather crucial to our understanding of Global Romanticism.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
As a young writer with neither profession nor money, William Wordsworth committed himself to a career as a poet, embracing what he believed was his destiny. But even the “giant Wordsworth,” as his friend and collaborator Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him, had his doubts. In Myself and Some Other Being, Daniel Robinson presents a young Wordsworth, as ambitious and insecure as any writer starting out, who was trying to prove to himself that he could become the great poet he desired to be and that Coleridge, equally brilliant and insecure, believed he already was.
Myself and Some Other Being is the story of Wordsworth becoming Wordsworth by writing the fragments and drafts of what would eventually become The Prelude, an autobiographical epic poem addressed to Coleridge that he hid from the public and was only published after his death in 1850. Feeling pressured to write the greatest epic poem of all time, a task set for him by Coleridge, Wordsworth feared that he was not up to the challenge and instead looked inside himself for memories and materials that he might make into poetry using the power of his imagination. What he found there was another Wordsworth—not exactly the memory of his younger self but rather “some other being” that he could adapt for an innovative kind of life-writing that he hoped would justify his writing life. By writing about himself and that other being, Wordsworth created an innovative autobiographical epic of becoming that is the masterpiece he believed he had failed to write.
In focusing on this young, ambitious, yet insecure Wordsworth struggling to find his place among other writers, Robinson ably demonstrates how The Prelude may serve as a provocative, instructive, and inspirational rumination on the writing of one’s own life. Concentrating on the process of Wordsworth’s endless revisions, the real literary business of creativity, Robinson puts Wordsworth forward as a model and inspiration for the next generation of writers.
After explaining his new methodology, Bidney identifies and discusses epiphanies in the works of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walter Pater, Thomas Carlyle, Leo Tolstoy, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Taking his cue from the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, Bidney postulates that any writer’s epiphany pattern usually shows characteristic elements (earth, air, fire, water), patterns of motion (pendular, eruptive, trembling), and/or geometric shapes. Bachelard’s analytic approach involves studying patterns of perceived experience—phenomenology—but unlike most phenomenologists, Bidney does not speculate on internal processes of consciousness. Instead, he concentrates on literary epiphanies as objects on the printed page, as things with structures that can be detected and analyzed for their implications.
Bidney, then, first identifies each author’s paradigm epiphany, finding that both the Romantics and the Victorians often label such a paradigm as a vision or dream, thereby indicating its exceptional intensity, mystery, and expansiveness. Once he identifies the paradigm and shows how it is structured, he traces occurrences of each writer’s epiphany pattern, thus providing an inclusive epiphanic portrait that enables him to identify epiphanies in each writer’s other works. Finally, he explores the implications of his analysis for other literary approaches: psychoanalytical, feminist, influence-oriented or intertextual, and New Historical.
In Romantic Complexity, Jack Stillinger examines three of the most admired poets of English Romanticism--Keats, Coleridge, and Wordsworth--with a focus on the complexity that results from the multiple authorship, the multiple textual representation, and the multiple reading and interpretation of their best works.
Specific topics include the joint authorship of Wordsworth and Coleridge in the Lyrical Ballads, an experiment of 1798 that established the most essential characteristics of modern poetry; Coleridge's creation of eighteen or more different versions of The Ancient Mariner and how this textual multiplicity affects interpretation; the historical collaboration between Keats and his readers to produce fifty-nine separate but entirely legitimate readings of The Eve of St. Agnes; and a number of practical and theoretical matters bearing on the relationships among these writers and their influences on one another.
Stillinger shows his deep understanding of the poets' lives, works, and the history of their reception, in chapters rich with intriguing questions and answers sure to engage students and teachers of the world's greatest poetry.
Our thoughts are shaped as much by what things make of us as by what we make of them. Lyric poetry is especially concerned with things and their relationship to thought, sense, and understanding. In Romantic Things, Mary Jacobus explores the world of objects and phenomena in nature as expressed in Romantic poetry alongside the theme of sentience and sensory deprivation in literature and art.
Jacobus discusses objects and attributes that test our perceptions and preoccupy both Romantic poetry and modern philosophy. John Clare, John Constable, Rainer Maria Rilke, W. G. Sebald, and Gerhard Richter make appearances around the central figure of William Wordsworth as Jacobus explores trees, rocks, clouds, breath, sleep, deafness, and blindness in their work. While she thinks through these things, she is assisted by the writings of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Nancy. Helping us think more deeply about things that are at once visible and invisible, seen and unseen, felt and unfeeling, Romantic Things opens our eyes to what has been previously overlooked in lyric and Romantic poetry.
Grounded in the thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Romanticism and Transcendence explores the religious dimensions of imagination in the Romantic tradition, both theoretically and in the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge. J. Robert Barth suggests that we may look to Coleridge for the theoretical grounding of the view of religious imagination proposed in this book, but that it is in Wordsworth above all that we see this imagination at work.
Barth first argues that the Romantic imagination—with its profound symbolic import—of its very nature has religious implications, and notes parallels between Coleridge’s view of the imagination and that of Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. He then turns to the role of religious experience in Wordsworth, using The Prelude as a privileged source. Next, after comparing the conception of humanity and God in Wordsworth and Coleridge, Barth considers the role of religious experience and imagery in two of Coleridge’s central poetic texts, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. Finally, Barth examines the continuing role of the Romantic idea of the religious imagination today, in literature and all the arts, linking it with the thought of theologian Karl Rahner and literary critic George Steiner.
Romanticism and Transcendence brings together literary theory, poetry, and religious experience, areas that are interrelated but are often not seen in relationship. By exploring levels of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s poetry that are often ignored, Barth provides insight into how and why the imagination was so important to their work. He also demonstrates how rich with religious value and meaning poetry and the arts can be.
The interdisciplinary nature of this important new study will make it useful not only to Wordsworth and Coleridge scholars and other Romantic specialists, but also to anyone concerned with the intellectual history of the nineteenth century and to theologians in general.
When most critics were using Freudian theories to study literature, Mark Edmundson read Freud’s writings as literature alongside the works of poets grappling with the heady issues of desire, narcissism, and grief. Towards Reading Freud weighs the psychoanalyst’s therapeutic directives against his more visionary impulses in a magisterial comparative study of such writers as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Emerson, and Keats. Cross-fertilizing psychological doctrine with the literary canon, this richly informed volume forges a new understanding of Freud’s writings on the self.
“Marvelous. . . . Edmundson’s book offers an extraordinary challenge both to practicing analysts and to a scholarly community which all too uncomplainingly inhabits and reinforces the Freudian paradigm of interpretation. Edmundson reinvents an adventurous and dissident Freud as an antidote to . . . weary psychoanalytic commonplaces.”—Malcolm Bowie, Raritan
“This book takes a distinguished place in the ongoing effort to recontextualize Freud by stressing the literary, rather than the scientific roots and character of his theory.”—Virginia Quarterly Review
The Unremarkable Wordsworth
Geoffrey H. HartmanForeword by Donald G. Marshall University of Minnesota Press, 1987 Library of Congress PR5888.H368 1987 | Dewey Decimal 821.7
The Unremarkable Wordsworth was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
William Wordsworth was attacked by the critics of his time for imposing unremarkable sights and sentiments on his audience. In this book's title essay, an exemplary reading of the Westminster Bridge sonnet, Geoffrey Hartman shows how Wordsworth's "unremarkable phrases" attain their curious vigor. Drawing upon the propositions of semiological analysis—that signs are not signs unless they become perceptible, through the contrast between "marked" and "unmarked"—Hartman, in a deft and sensitive analysis, is able to play these notions of marking and the unremarkable off against each other. Wordsworth, in the end, overcomes both his critics and the science of signs: his quiet sonnet—with its muted or near-absent signs—is itself, as epitaph for an era, a faithful sign of the times.
Hartman's capacity to open up a dialogue between contemporary theory and Wordsworth's poetry informs all of these essays, written since the 1964 publication of Wordsworth's Poetry, a book that marked an epoch in the study of that poet and of Romantic poetry in general. In the years since then, the nature of literary study has changed dramatically, and Hartman has been a leader in the turn to theoretical modes of interpretation. The fifteen essays in The Unremarkable Wordsworth draw upon a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, from psychoanalysis to structuralism, from deconstruction to phenomenology. Yet, as Donald Marshall points out in his foreword, "Wordsworth remains so much the focus of this book that 'critical method' is strangely transmuted." For Hartman, reading and thinking are inseparable; he has an uncanny power to convey in an intensified form the poet's own consciousness, not under the rubric of "intertextuality" but because he "has ears to hear."
Geoffrey H. Hartman is Karl Young Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University. His most recent book is Easy Pieces. Donald G. Marshall is a professor of English at the University of Iowa.
Wordsworth in His Major Lyrics explores the identity, role, and subjectivity of the speaker in Wordsworth's finest and best-known longer lyrics—"Tintern Abbey," "Resolution and Independence," "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," and "Elegiac Stanzas." Because Wordsworth is the most autobiographical poet of the Romantic period, and perhaps in the English language, readers naturally take the speaker to be the poet himself or, as Wordsworth says in his prefaces and essays, "the poet in his own person."
Some readers allow for a fictional dimension in the characterization of the speaker and refer to him as a persona; others treat him as a biographical self, defined in literary, political, historical, or cultural terms. Leon Waldoff examines the critical issues posed by these different understandings of the speaker's identity and argues for a conception of Wordsworth's lyrical "I" that deals with the dramatic and psychological complexities of the speaker's act of self-representation.
Taking concepts from Freud and Winnicott, this book presents a psychoanalytic model for defining the speaker and conceptualizing his subjectivity. Waldoff suggests that the lyrical "I" in each poem is a transitional self of the poet. The poem offers, in the suspended moment and cultural space of lyrical form, a self-dramatization in which the speaker attempts to act out, in the sense of both performing and attempting to achieve, a reconstitution and transformation of the self.
In a series of close readings that provide formalistic and psychological analysis, the book shows that the major lyrics contain compelling evidence that Wordsworth devoted much of his poetic art to each speaker's act of self-dramatization. The various strategies that each speaker employs and the self- dramatizing character of his utterance are theorized and assimilated into an understanding of the subjectivity he represents.
Waldoff concludes that Wordsworth's lyrical "I" requires a conception of subjectivity that gives greater recognition to its individual, psychological dimensions and to the art of self-representation in each poem than recent Wordsworth criticism has provided. This important new work will be appreciated by anyone interested in Wordsworth or in Romantic poetry.
Matthew Bevis University of Chicago Press, 2019 Library of Congress PR5892.C63B48 2019 | Dewey Decimal 821.7
“The next day Wordsworth arrived from Bristol at Coleridge’s cottage,” William Hazlitt recalled, “He answered in some degree to his friend’s description of him, but was more quaint and Don Quixote- like . . . there was a convulsive inclination to laughter about the mouth.” Hazlitt presents a Wordsworth who differs from the one we know—and, as Matthew Bevis argues in his radical new reading of the poet, this Wordsworth owed his quixotic creativity to a profound feeling for comedy.
Wordsworth’s Fun explores the writer’s debts to the ludic and the ludicrous in classical tradition; his reworkings of Ariosto, Erasmus, and Cervantes; his engagement with forms of English poetic humor; and his love of comic prose. Combining close reading with cultural analysis, Bevis travels many untrodden ways, studying Wordsworth’s interest in laughing gas, pantomime, the figure of the fool, and the value of play. Intrepid, immersive, and entertaining, Wordsworth’s Fun sheds fresh light on how one poet’s strange humor helped to shape modern literary experiment.
Wordsworth is England's greatest poet of the French Revolution: he witnessed some of its events first hand, participated in its intellectual and social ambitions, and eventually developed his celebrated poetic campaign in response to its enthusiasms. But how should that response be understood? Combining careful interpretive analysis with wide-ranging historical scholarship, Chandler presents a challenging new account of the political views implicit in Wordsworth's major works–in The Prelude, above all, but also in the central lyrics and shorter narrative poems.
Central to the discussion, which restores Wordsworth to both the French and English contexts in which he matured, is a consideration of his relation to Rousseau and Burke. Chandler maintains that by the time Wordsworth set forth his "program for poetry" in 1798, he had turned away from the Rousseauist idea of nature that had informed his early republican writings. He had already become a poet of what Burke called "second nature"–human nature cultivated by custom, habit, and tradition–and an opponent of the quest for first principles that his friend Coleridge could not forsake. In his analysis of the poetry, Chandler suggests that even Wordsworth's most apparently private moments, the lyrical "spots of time," ideologically embodied the uncalculated habits of an oral narrative discipline and a native English mind.