By Elizabeth A. Fay
This leading edge booklet explores the speculation that "Wordsworth the Poet" is an creative 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 imperative enactor, either publicly and privately, poetically and experimentally, his tendency used to be to sublimate Dorothy into an audible yet invisible muse, situated simply in the back of him. Dorothy, even if, consistently 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 classy functionality to be enacted at will, while William stumbled on the function ever extra typical and inseparable from himself.
This publication explores the ways that the Wordsworths have been rather suited for advance their collaborative character, the literary fictions they drew on, and the price they derived from the sort 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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Extra resources for Becoming Wordsworthian: a performative aesthetics
But the private vision underlying the public is that of a fictive bohemian existence, out of which William and Dorothy created their Wordsworthianness and in which only one of their brothers felt close enough temperamentally to participate. Being Wordsworthian was not a birthright but a state, one to which spiritual "brothers" such as Coleridge were openly welcomed and adopted. But such a state must entwine the public and private lives, the ways of being in the world, so that acting and being (acting the role of the self) are the same.
To speak of poetic cults or popular women writers leaves out perhaps Page 4 the most formative influence on the mature poet Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth. I engage the culture of sensibility here as the strong ground of Wordsworthian aesthetics in order to rework the reception of Wordsworth's masculinist project. But more importantly, it resituates Dorothy Wordsworth within the exclusionary terrain of High Romanticism as a partner in her brother's poetic project. Although current research on women writers in the romantic period determinedly mines cultural history in order to dig forgotten women poets out of the archives, it was necessary to develop a different approach for Becoming Wordsworthian since Dorothy Wordsworth's literary output is small and, with certain exceptions, unpublished.
She seems, like Mary Shelley, to have been a silent companion to the fervent poetical, political, and philosophical conversations between men despite the testimony of her journal entries, as in this chapter's epigraph. 1 Similarly, we do not allow ourselves to consider that influence could go the other way: that Dorothy's imagination and poetic voice could at all have influenced her brother, her elder by one year. W. Wordsworth's voice seems to us distinct, hardly touched even by Coleridge's enthusiasms despite the claims the younger poet makes in his Biographia Literaria.
Becoming Wordsworthian: a performative aesthetics by Elizabeth A. Fay