Becoming Wordsworthian: a performative aesthetics by Elizabeth A. Fay

By Elizabeth A. Fay

This leading edge e-book explores the speculation that "Wordsworth the Poet" is an innovative projection during which either William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy collaborated, constructing a personality that the siblings strove to inhabit. simply because William used to be its important enactor, either publicly and privately, poetically and experimentally, his tendency was once to sublimate Dorothy into an audible yet invisible muse, situated simply at the back of him. Dorothy, despite the fact that, regularly imagined herself in a collaborative or twinned relation to William, even if he used to be absent. She skilled the Wordsworthian function as more and more alienating, extra a cultured functionality to be enacted at will, while William stumbled on the function ever extra normal and inseparable from himself.

This booklet explores the ways that the Wordsworths have been fairly suited for advance their collaborative character, the literary fictions they drew on, and the worth they derived from this type of concerted and utopian attempt. the writer bases her paintings on recognized Wordsworthian texts, in addition to little-read lyrics and essays of William and the relatively unknown oeuvre of Dorothy.

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Page 2 "Performative," when it is taken in the sense of the compelling imagination, redresses the issues of constitutive versus descriptive formations by calling into play the sociality of the creative act. To the extent that Wordsworthian genius is socially impacted, it must be understood as doubly gendered, and collaboratively engendered. To the extent that this is true, the performative then lies within the romantic sincerity of the Wordsworthian speaker-poet, indeed, within the sincerity of both William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

As a concept, it is indeed performative because it allows the subject-on-trial to play out mythopoetic roles within a multiply determined rather than overdetermined space. When the setting frees up the script in this fashion, the performative is naturalized, unconstrained by the artifice of an overdetermined aesthetic space. The pastoral is itself a space of domestication and therefore, according to Wordsworth's own philosophic deliberations, beauty. Nonetheless, and despite Burkean pronouncements as to the terrain appropriate to particular emotions and experiences, the domestic is also capable of situating sublime transport.

I am interested, rather, in the map itself, for it is in the strictest of Wordsworthian senses a stageable map, a performative directive. There is, however, no performance per se because this is a traveler's map, a charting of imaginative grounds by which one can enact a particular aesthetic state of being or coming into being. Dorothy Wordsworth's "Commonplace Book," DCMS 120, which will be discussed further in the final chapter, contains a large number of her poems copied in, for safekeeping, album-style; but it also charts out, graphically and iconographically, a traveler's log.

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