Becoming Wordsworthian: A Performative Aesthetics

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University of Massachusetts Press, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 279 pages

This innovative book explores the hypothesis that "Wordsworth the Poet" is an imaginative projection in which both William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy collaborated, developing a persona that the siblings strove to inhabit. Because William was its principal enactor, both publicly and privately, poetically and experimentally, his tendency was to sublimate Dorothy into an audible but invisible muse, located just behind him. Dorothy, however, always imagined herself in a collaborative or twinned relation to William, even when he was absent. She experienced the Wordsworthian role as increasingly alienating, more an aesthetic performance to be enacted at will, whereas William found the role ever more natural and inseparable from himself.

This book explores the ways in which the Wordsworths were particularly suited to develop their collaborative persona, the literary fictions they drew on, and the value they derived from such a concerted and utopian effort. The author bases her work on well-known Wordsworthian texts, as well as little-read lyrics and essays of William and the comparatively unknown oeuvre of Dorothy.

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Mountains and Abysses
The Poetics of Negotiating Charts

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About the author (1995)

Associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Elizabeth A. Fay is editor with Michelle M. Tokarczyk of Working-Class Women in the Academy: Laborers in the Knowledge Factory (University of Massachusetts Press, 1993).

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