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Title:The Dualistic Mind And Poetic Form In Wordsworth's "prelude"
Author(s):Davis, James Phillip
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:In The Prelude, his most sustained work explicitly concerned with mental processes, Wordsworth posits that the healthy mind operates as if it were two--one analytic, the other holistic--and he speaks of having "two consciousnesses," two interactive faculties that together comprise the mind. Wordsworth's efforts to devise a literary form that dramatizes mental processes as he sees them anticipate many twentieth-century techniques in poetry and fiction, and his speculations about consciousness resemble the theories of physiologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and educators who study the interactions between the two hemispheres of the brain. If current theories about the mind are accurate, they enable us to see various features of Wordsworth's poetry as serving a single, though complex, purpose, and they suggest a way of viewing Romanticism in general as a broad cultural rediscovery of the value of the eccentric and quirky mental processes now believed to reside in the right hemisphere of the human brain.
Wordsworth is greatly indebted to Coleridge for many of the poetic techniques with which he dramatizes holistic thought processes. Wordsworth finds in Coleridge's "conversation poems" a poetic form he adapts to create the primary structural unit of The Prelude --what he calls the "spot of time." This structure embodies non-linear experiences of time, and its flexibility in Wordsworth's hands permits his experimenting with nondiscursive, even deliberately incoherent, passages, without damaging the overall unity of the poem. The Prelude proposes and illustrates a paradoxical theory of poetic unity, subsuming Wordsworth's contrary impulses toward order and disorder within a poem that enacts dualistic consciousness. Wordsworth's experiments with poetic form are distinct as innovations in genre, because they represent a response to and an encouragement of a distinctly modern view of the mind.
Issue Date:1987
Description:186 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721621
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987

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