Wordsworth's Unremembered Pleasure

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

Wordsworth’s writing detects and investigates pleasures that are overlooked, underacknowledged, and ‘unremembered’. This book explores Wordsworth’s sustained interest in the ethical and aesthetic value of lost, inaccessible, and unfelt pleasure throughout his poetry and critical prose. Such pleasures are marginal and fleeting; they pass by silently and are recognized only retrospectively. Yet they shape the aims, technique, and ultimately the whole affective economy of Wordsworth’s writing. Rather than understanding the domain of pleasure to be subjective personal experience, Wordsworth posits affects and attachments beyond conscious experience and possession. By tracing the intertwined history of romanticism and psychoanalysis, the work teases Wordsworth’s interest in unnoticed experience apart from the psychoanalytic concepts that have shaped our understanding of it. Reading Wordsworth against Freud, it rethinks central critical categories: repression, sublimation, mourning, happiness, pleasure, and the gift. In Wordsworth’s account of composition, it locates the resources to rethink poetic pleasure: not as wish-fulfilment, nor as aesthetic escape, but as an engaged and reparative relation to the world.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198856986
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020


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