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Thinking Through PoetryField Reports on Romantic Lyric$
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Marjorie Levinson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198810315

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198810315.001.0001

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Romantic Poetry

Romantic Poetry

The State of the Art1

(p.67) 3 Romantic Poetry
Thinking Through Poetry

Marjorie Levinson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 pursues Chapter 2’s immanent critique of the new historicism. Whereas new historicism’s bedrock is epistemology—questions about the domain of rationality—metaphysics is the province of questions about reality. The change in Romantic poetry crystallizes in effects that resist our codes not through denial, displacement, or repression—the conditions for a hermeneutics of suspicion—but through something like indifference. We see a new kind of negativity. This version of Romanticism verges on withdrawal from the scene of interpretation, resistance to the depth hermeneutics of earlier Marxist criticism. It is enabled by Spinoza’s theory of conatus; the work of Sebastiano Timpanaro, whose Marxist historicism arises from the nature and biology side; and the notion of autopoeisis of neurophysiologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. The relevant patterns in Romantic poetry are then illustrated through a reading of Wordsworth’s “Old Man Travelling: Animal Tranquillity and Decay.”

Keywords:   metaphysics, suspicion hermeneutics, epistemology, Romanticism, lyric poetry, literary theory, William Wordsworth, Spinoza, Sebastiano Timpanaro, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela

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