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Lecture 4

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English 2307E
Krista Lysack

English 2307E Tuesday January 21 Lecture 4 Wordsworth In-Class Essay: • Includes what we have covered since coming back in January until what we will cover the class before the essay Romanticism 1789–1830s Political Revolutions • Rise of democracy • There was a new interest in the individual and the rights of the individual Aesthetic Revolutions • Emotion (emotion came before reason), imagination, subjective experience, the artist as visionary (new roles for artists) • New forms (including poetry) – Wordsworth thought of new ways of writing poetry Wordsworth: An Overview • Used a different kind of language that seems more natural • He was a quiet man of upper-middle class • He was able to familiarize himself with the art and culture of Europe by travelling around • In 1790, he took his first walking tour through the Alps and parts of France • Initially he was excited about the Revolution (he was a supporter of democracy), but changed his thinking when it turned violent o He wrote an autobiographical poem called ‘The Prelude’ where he writes about his early enthusiasm for the French Revolution • He returned to England where he eventually met Samuel Coleridge (the poet we will look at next week) – they collaborated and edited each other’s work o In 1798, they published a collection of poems in a single volume called ‘Lyrical Ballads’ o They were excited about the prospect of revolutionizing and transforming poetry o For people at this time, these poems went against the rules of poetry (it was written in everyday, common language) – for most people, poetry was supposed to be about lofty ideas written in lofty language o They didn’t get very good reviews at the beginning, but it still sold very well and they were able to put out more editions • Wordsworth expanded to the introduction of ‘Lyrical Ballads’ in 1800 and 1802 o It was an opportunity to discuss criticism of the reviews and defend the poetry he and Coleridge were writing • Wordsworth’s problem with the reigning model of poetry: o Lack of connection between the poetry and the audience th It can seem elitist instead of intimate o 18 century poetry is about your performance as a poet, your ability to display your classical learning  It is more about showing off your academic prowess than connecting with the audience  It is more showy and academic and as a result lacks feeling and authenticity o Although technically brilliant, it doesn’t really have meaning or emotion Wordsworth is often known as a “nature poet” because he wants to write in a natural way. Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads – 1800, 1802 • The ‘savage torpor’ 296 o There feeling that life is speeding up, moving too quickly, and overstimulating everybody o It’s as if he wants to get away from this fast-paced urban culture o He tends to idealize nature a little bit o He is worried that overstimulation will “blunt the powers of the mind” (make everyone into zombies) o “All this exertion is reducing the mind to a state of almost savage torpor” o He writes about a time of upheaval and change to the quiet English countryside  The effects of urbanization, pollution, overpopulation, and visual culture (early forms of advertising and media) are beginning o Wordsworth suggests poetry as a remedy  This shows how optimistic he is about poetry and how much he believes in the power of it • Poet and emotion 299 o He appeals to emotion and its potential for transformation o Although we connect poetry to emotion today, in the 18 century it wasn’t so much about that (it appealed to the mind and to reason) o The concern was that Wordsworth might be aligning himself with political radicals (extremists) o Wordsworth still believed in poetry being technically good, but not at t
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