Abstract

This essay uses the biological concept of human neoteny – the retention of juvenile traits in adulthood resulting from prolonged childhood – to help explain why the adult Wordsworth, in order to overcome a creative malaise and to establish a kind of religious authority in the wake of the French Revolution, set about recollecting particular memories of his childhood in verse. Two psychological systems are evident in the 1799 Prelude: one, the play system, which, while not the sole product of mankind's extended childhood, is certainly a major feature of it; the other, a system of promiscuous attribution of intentionality, which enables belief in a supervisory moral agency.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 112-130
Launched on MUSE
2010-04-10
Open Access
No
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