Friday, 19 August 2016

The Idiot Boy

Jana Prikryl has a hate-on for William Wordsworth:
Poetry tends to resist smug certainties and predetermined conclusions, but Wordsworth has a kind of genius for self-transcription: He thinks a thought or holds a belief, and then he spells it out for you, and in that transaction—which is hardly a transaction! Nothing has really been exchanged, or changed— there’s no room for anything to surprise him much less the reader. I think his unquestioned pedestal in the canon has more to do with people’s admiration of his positions, his “message,” than with the ways he got that message across—which seems to me a function of the tastes of the prose-based community, warping what poetry is meant to do and capable of doing. Plus, he was personally and professionally cruel to Coleridge, whom I love in an awfully personal way. I tend to take my own partisanship on behalf of Coleridge past the brink of self-parody… because somebody’s got to.

1 comment:

David Godkin said...

A rather vague indictment. I'm not sure what "messages" WW is supposed to have been pedalling. Self-transcription" i.e. writing the self, is accurate I suppose, but only insofar as it is a necessary stage along the path to self-revelation, at the time a refreshing and necessary departure from the the 18th century neoclassicism of Pope and Dryden.

Not sure what the "tastes of the prose-based community" have to do with WW's poetry. Which community? What prose? What effect is it supposed to have had on poetry?

Pity about Coleridge.