Abstract

In his 1998 biography The Hidden Wordsworth: Poet, Lover, Rebel, Spy, Kenneth R. Johnston advances the controversial claim that the Romantic poet may have been working for the Home Office in a clandestine capacity while traveling in Germany as a young man. This article offers a rhetorical analysis of Johnston’s method of positing Wordsworth’s juvenile errors as the means by which he was recruited into service. Johnston’s method is not so much biographical as tropological, an imaginative figuration of the poet-as-spy based upon a series of metaphorical and metonymical substitutions. Ostensibly an act of uncovering Wordsworth’s involvement in late eighteenth-century intrigues, the biographer weaves a narrative of secret motives and actions that effectively recruits Wordsworth as a participant in twentieth-century conflicts.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1456
Print ISSN
0162-4962
Pages
pp. 277-297
Launched on MUSE
2011-11-23
Open Access
No
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