Wordsworth, the sense of history /
Alan Liu.
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, c1989.
xvi, 726 p. : ill. ; 27 cm.
0804713731 (alk. paper) :
More Details
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, c1989.
0804713731 (alk. paper) :
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. [645]-675.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-02:
This huge, formidably learned, and immensely ambitious book will be far more often praised than read. Liu (Yale University), whose numerous articles have given him a prominent place among younger romantics, has here in his first book brought to bear upon Wordsworth and "the sense of history" a vast range of critical, methodological, and theoretical perspectives, especially deconstruction and the new historicism. Writing in an obscure, at times impenetrable prose, Liu makes no concessions to readers less polymathic than himself. A single page can bristle with references to Descartes, Heidegger, Braudel, Meerloo, Levi-Strauss, Bergson, Poulet, Ecclesiastes, and St. Augustine, among others. "An Evening Walk," a 446-line early poem by Wordsworth known primarily to specialists, produces a 75-page excursion, "The Politics of the Picturesque," in which visual representation, poetic form, and aesthetic theory all become branches of politics, as does indeed almost every aspect of human activity upon which Liu discourses. In another lengthy argument, Liu finds the famous crossing of the Alps passage in Wordsworth's Prelude explicitly linked, down to minute details, with Napoleon's crossing of the Alps, a connection most readers will surely find imaginary. Liu's "project" is relentlessly egocentric, the critic's interests and associations being not only as important as those of the putative subject, Wordsworth, but for long stretches far more so. Scholars will want to sample the text to know where the "cutting edge" of romantic studies may now be. Undergraduates are unlikely to get beyond a few paragraphs. -N. Fruman, University of Minnesota
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 1990
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