Chapter

Wordsworth on the Heath: Tragedy, Autobiography, and the Revolutionary Spectator

Emily Sun

in Succeeding King Lear

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232802
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241163 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823232802.003.0003
Wordsworth on the Heath: Tragedy, Autobiography, and the Revolutionary Spectator

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Wordsworth is the poet of the “egotistical sublime,” unmistakably the hero at the center of his own poems, who seems even with his characters to be speaking in propria persona. According to Wordsworth's explanation, the French Revolution lay at the root of his initiative to write the play in the first place. The Borderers is indeed profoundly concerned with the relationship between autobiography and revolutionary democratic politics. Critics responded to the invitation implicit in Wordsworth's remarks to interpret The Borderers as a combination of autobiographical and revolutionary allegory. The heath internalized as topos in Mortimer's consciousness, marking precisely what keeps his consciousness from being whole. Wordsworth's originality in inheriting the topos of the heath consists of transforming it from site of exposure outside the community into the basis of new locus communis whereby community itself emerges from the readers' radical exposure to the life stories of others.

Keywords: Wordsworth; French Revolution; The Borderers; Mortimer; heath; consciousness; community; autobiography

Chapter.  11136 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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