Conclusion: Imaginative Belief and Critical Commitment

Jerome J. McGann

in The Beauty of Inflections

Published in print August 1988 | ISBN: 9780198117506
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670961 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks

Conclusion: Imaginative Belief and Critical Commitment

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The Romantic Ideology tried to graph the characteristic patterns of Romantic displacement in poetry. The object of this exercise was twofold: first, to expose the tragic and/or self-critical aspects of Romantic poetry, and especially of Romantic poetry carried out under utopian or transcendental signs; and second, to persuade scholars that criticism ought to be trying not to reify, or recuperate, or repeat Romantic interests and experience, but to use them for clarifying and criticizing one's immediate interests and experiences. This chapter concludes that the central stylistic device of Romantic poetry, the act of displacement, also locates the radically utopian element of the Romantic ideology. The act of displacement at once perpetuates the condition of desire and calls attention to the lost object of desire.

Keywords: Romantic poetry; historical method; The Romantic Ideology; displacement; Wordsworth

Chapter.  3422 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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