Wordsworth's Second Nature: A Study of the Poetry and Politics

Wordsworth's Second Nature: A Study of the Poetry and Politics

by James Chandler
     
 

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226100814
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
12/28/1984
Edition description:
Digital Reprint
Pages:
338
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.73(d)

Meet the Author

James Chandler is the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, including England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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