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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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Notes and Queries on Names and Numbers

Notes and Queries on Names and Numbers

8 (p.193) Notes and Queries on Names and Numbers1
Thinking Through Poetry

Marjorie Levinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a reading of Wordsworth’s “She dwelt among th’untrodden ways” through the prism of ordinary language theory and of number theory. Key resources include John Stuart Mill’s System of Logic, Gottlob Frege’s essays, and Gertrude Stein’s writings. Thematic attention is accorded to epitaphs and the theory of naming (from ordinary language philosophy), and to the special cases of zero and one (from number theory). The latter is brought to bear on the none/few logical contradiction that many have noted in the poem. The deployment of these materials makes possible an exploration of what Virginia Jackson calls “inhuman lyricism” in the work of Emily Dickinson—here investigated, however, in an earlier incarnation, in Wordsworth’s Lucy poems.

Keywords:   William Wordsworth, John Stuart Mill, Gottlob Frege, Gertrude Stein, ordinary language theory, zero, epitaphs, Romanticism, literary theory, lyric poetry

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