Abstract

Wordsworth’s investment in a moving subject is well established, whether one is considering accounts of his own European rambles or his many portraits of people in motion. In his most famous developmental narrative in “Tintern Abbey,” however, he brackets and discards the “glad animal movements” of his earliest years. Erasmus Darwin’s Zoonomia, read by Wordsworth during the composition of Lyrical Ballads, provides a context for both the phrase “animal movements” and Wordsworth’s own thoughts about the meaning of motion. With his four-fold schema of animal motion, embracing perception, cognition, and bodily processes as well as voluntary motion, Darwin depicts an animal organism for which motion is definitive, providing the foundation for the later development of a stable subject and its will. Wordsworth, by contrast, often evacuates motion from the subject in order to create a stable viewer in dialectical relation to an environment experienced as a landscape prospect, as exemplified by two episodes in “The Two-Part Prelude.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-9247
Print ISSN
1565-3668
Pages
pp. 11-28
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-03
Open Access
No
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