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By Steven E. Jones (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0312299869

ISBN-13: 9780312299866

ISBN-10: 1349425826

ISBN-13: 9781349425822

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Extra info for Satire and Romanticism

Sample text

The actual process of competitive struggle and relational construction at this border is remarkably complex, far from clear-cut. For one thing, satiric modes and figures inevitably survive within Romantic writing as the by-products of such an act of oppositional definition, of the struggle for difference and dominance in the field of poetry. Wordsworth and Crabbe’s Poetic Presence First, I want briefly to consider the evidence for direct “influence” between Crabbe and Wordsworth—slim and mostly circumstantial—before moving to a more capacious (and ultimately more interesting) way of comparing the two poets.

Wordsworth’s Peter is a convert to true feeling. Such comparisons are helpful because they do not merely repeat the wellestablished opposition between Crabbe and Wordsworth but usefully complicate the terms of that opposition, help to tell its history. The family resemblance between the two Peters is clear: it runs much deeper than their names or the stereotypes they represent. The differences between the two Representing Rustics 35 characters, therefore, are more subtle than the terms “realism” and “romance,” under which they have come down to us in (and in the margins of ) the canon, can possibly account for.

Amen. This parody is funny, but it is also a parable of competing poetic modes (and the inevitability of their continuing admixture). Indeed, it provides a perfect picture of the very dynamic I have been describing: Wordsworth’s countersatiric turn and the return of satire. Here the “harsh leer” is set in opposition to the purity of nature and the “inmost heart,” and the solipsistic poet of sensibility literally turns away from the “penetrating eye” of the leering, sarcastic old man, retreating into meditative feeling (“deep smart”) and projecting onto the rustic his phantasmagoric idealization of human (and leech) nature—a Romantic reclamation project.

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Satire and Romanticism by Steven E. Jones (auth.)


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