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Infant Sensibility in Wordsworth and De Quincey / Martina Domines Veliki.

By: Domines Veliki, Martina.
Material type: TextTextSubject(s): Romantic selfhood, childhood memories, Wordsworth, De Quincey eng In: Romanticism and the Cultures of Infancy 2018Summary: This book chapter opens the volume by returning us to Wordsworth and De Quincey and their accounts of infant sensibility in relation to Romantic subjectivity. Wordsworth's 'new lyricism of simple things' (Rancière) involves childhood episodes as the poet's major 'spots of time'. By addressing some well-known topoi of Romantic literature and especially the onotological unity of child and nature, the return to one's origins and the 'myth of memory' (Bloom), Wordsworth firmly believes that innocent features of infant sensibility, morality and benevolence, are gradually lost as we grow up but can be regained through memory and imaginative recreation of past events. The idealized scenes of childhood Wordsworth shows thus embody the poet's attempt at building up a coherent, unified, masculine selfhood. On the other hand, by a much more realistic approach to his childhood years, De Quincey complicates the positive assessment of maturation as progress. Infancy is therefore approached in terms of infant sensibility which is far more complex and multi-faceted when compared to Wordsworth. Thus, De Quincey shows that life is not a linear sequence of events leading to a unified selfhood but a constant recollection and revision of Wordsworthian 'spots of time' in which our infant sensibility exists alongside our grown-up selves.
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This book chapter opens the volume by returning us to Wordsworth and De Quincey and their accounts of infant sensibility in relation to Romantic subjectivity. Wordsworth's 'new lyricism of simple things' (Rancière) involves childhood episodes as the poet's major 'spots of time'. By addressing some well-known topoi of Romantic literature and especially the onotological unity of child and nature, the return to one's origins and the 'myth of memory' (Bloom), Wordsworth firmly believes that innocent features of infant sensibility, morality and benevolence, are gradually lost as we grow up but can be regained through memory and imaginative recreation of past events. The idealized scenes of childhood Wordsworth shows thus embody the poet's attempt at building up a coherent, unified, masculine selfhood. On the other hand, by a much more realistic approach to his childhood years, De Quincey complicates the positive assessment of maturation as progress. Infancy is therefore approached in terms of infant sensibility which is far more complex and multi-faceted when compared to Wordsworth. Thus, De Quincey shows that life is not a linear sequence of events leading to a unified selfhood but a constant recollection and revision of Wordsworthian 'spots of time' in which our infant sensibility exists alongside our grown-up selves.

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