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Title: 'The light that never was on sea or land': William Wordsworth in America and Emily Dickinson's 'Frostier' Style'
Authors: Hsu, Li-hsin
Contributors: 英文系
Date: 2016-11
Issue Date: 2017-05-16 17:02:45 (UTC+8)
Abstract: This paper proposes to investigate Emily Dickinson’s transatlantic literary connection with William Wordsworth. Her references to and appropriation of Wordsworth inform her critical understanding of the polarized reception of Wordsworth’s poetry and its potential impact on her own poetic experimentation. Dickinson’s role as a poetic heir of Wordsworth, particularly her relation to Romanticism, has been extensively explored. Critics such as Harold Bloom and Joanne Feit Diehl point out the antagonistic relationship between Dickinson and her male precursors. Robert Weisbuch and Inder Nath Kher, alternatively, see Dickinson’s quest poems as essentially Romantic. Scholars such as Margaret Homans consider Dickinson’s poems as deconstructing the binary structure embedded in the writings of her male precursors. More recently, critics such as Richard Gravil and Richard E. Brantley place Dickinson firmly in the literary tradition of Anglo-American Romanticism. This paper explores Dickinson’s engagement with Wordsworth further through her potential awareness of and response to Wordsworth’s mixed Anglo-American receptions. A number of Dickinson’s Wordsworthian allusions in her poems, such as daffodils, primroses, and the sunlight, borrow and appropriate images that Wordsworth’s poetry had made popular in the cultural consciousness. These poems of Dickinson conjure up the Wordsworthian imagery as objects of rare values or commodities, reflecting the polarized receptions of Wordsworth in the mid-nineteenth century. In particular, Wordsworth’s “joyful” message of nature, which Arnold and his contemporaries considered most valuable, played a role in Dickinson’s experimentation with her own poetic voices in the 1850s and 1860s. The paper examines how Dickinson might have been aware of Wordsworth’s poetic reputation, and how Wordsworth’s “joyful” nature poems are critically reviewed in the mid-nineteenth-century Anglo-American world. I then scrutinize a number of Dickinson’s poems about Wordsworthian nature in relation to Dickinson’s tentative adjustment of her poetic expression for a “frostier” style at the inception of her poetic career. The paper suggests that Dickinson’s subtle engagement with Wordsworth provides a glimpse of how she is concerned about the positioning of herself, a New England poet, in a mid-nineteenth-century Anglo-American literary tradition.
Relation: The Emily Dickinson Journal, Vol.25, No.2, pp.24-47
Data Type: article
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Appears in Collections:[英國語文學系] 期刊論文

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